Fear of the Nigerian sect Boko Haram is leading to higher commodity prices in border towns in Cameroon. Increased security measures are slowing the import of goods from Nigeria.
In Camerooon, the end of the year is usually marked with eating, dancing and the exchange of gifts. But this time things are different for Cameroonians living near the Nigerian border. The supply of basic commodities has slowed down as a result of strict border surveillance by Cameroonian authorities following reports that Nigerian sect Boko Haram was recruiting new members from northern Cameroon. As a result prices have shot up, some by as much as seventy percent.
"A liter of palm oil used to sell for 1,100 francs ($12.2, 1.7 euros) but now it is 1,400 francs," one man told DW.
For a country where more than half of the population live in poverty (on less than $1.25 a day), the increase in the price of palm oil is staggering.
More than eighty percent of basic commodities are usually imported through Nigeria. Now, as a result of the increased border monitoring, traders no longer have easy access to both countries. Some on the Camerooon side of the border say they are no longer ready to buy from Nigeria.
"Going there means being in danger. You know Boko Haram don't know how to distinguish between the persons they want to kill. You can go there and be a victim," a trader in the border town Limani told DW.
Government claims disputed
To counter the problem, the authorities say they have imported large amounts of food items to meet the needs of the population in areas where shortages are being felt most strongly. According to Minister of Trade Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, the government's efforts are showing success.
The prices are fair and goods are available on the market, he said.
But the people on the street do not agree. They say that they have to line up for basic commodities because the supply is not enough to satisfy demand. Also, rations are being put in place.
Things don't look like they will improve soon. Security officials have indicated that they are taking further measures to stop Boko Haram from entering Cameroonian territory.
The Cameroon armed forces are on standby to tackle any external threat with many plain clothes security officials ready to intervene at any moment, said Elokobi Daniel, who heads security at the Ministry of Defense.