11 Nov 2005
Following a spate of burglaries and particularly armed robbery, many operators of community pharmacies in Cameroon’s economic capital are living in a state of fear.
The situation has degenerated in recent times to the extent that armed robbery in Douala is almost becoming a daily occurrence.
A typical robbery operation usually involves armed men riding on motorcycles popularly called ‘bend skin’. They arrive in a group of two to four armed men posing as customers towards the close of the working day. Before the unsuspecting pharmacy staff can know what is happening, the robbers jump over the counter into the inner pharmacy and surrender the cashier and other staff with pistols, carting away cash and other valuables such as mobile telephones in the process. Any customer who happens to be visiting the pharmacy during their operations is simply treated like the pharmacy staff.
Within a period of little over a week, I can recall that the armed men have visited the following Pharmacies; Vertus, Pk8, Bonamoussadi, Lamarine and Mondial. These men of the underworld mete the same treatment to bakeries and other shops around town.
The robberies couldn’t have come at a worse time than this when Pharmacies are recording some of their worst turnovers in memory and also when they are under immense fiscal pressure from the taxation department.
It should be recalled that the population of Douala was elated when the government created a rapid intervention unit within the police not long ago to fight armed robbery.
From the onset, this unit performed her duty remarkably well to the applause of the general population. Recent happenings around Douala tend to give the impression that the rapid intervention unit is losing steam.
As the days go by and the situation degenerates, the staff of respective pharmacies now live in fear with anxiety akin to that of a soldier on the war front.
Njei Moses Timah