15 January 2013

Cameroon: Douala Laundry Agents Makes Ends Meet

Every day, people rise up early and move to their daily occupations. While children of school-going ages hit the road by bus, taxi or on foot; business persons rush to market places, while workers trace their paths to their respective offices. Another group of workers in the economic capital are laundry agents, who operate mainly at home. Established in most neighbourhoods in Douala, these operators are widely solicited by persons who can afford their prices.

Abdou is a Malian laundry agent based in New Bell. Every morning, as early as 7 am, he starts washing the pile of clothes deposited by customers. His main water source is pipe-borne water from his landlord's tap. Talking to CT, he explained that unlike others who pay water bills at the end of every month, he has an agreement with his landlord. Abdou washes the latter's clothes and payment is compensated through water consumption. He does not have a fixed price per clothing; rather bargaining is done based on the quantity of clothes brought by the client. As such, he can earn more money to send to his wife and two children back at home.

However, he faces a problem during the dry season, that of water rationing. This causes setbacks like delays in serving customers, coupled with a fall in demand. He equally complains about a higher expenditure, given that he usually buys water in order to respect deadlines. Other laundry agents using well water do not face the same problem; except the local population resorts to well water during shortages.

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