Cleanup campaigns instituted by some councils to keep urban and even rural towns perpetually clean have been compromised by persistent dirty habits.
Many Mayors who initiated the general cleanup campaign in their council areas may end up saying what the legendary King Joseph II of Austria wrote as his own epitaph before dying in 1790; "here lies a prince whose intentions were pure, but who was unfortunate in all his undertakings."
In effect, almost all urban settlements initially involved in the cleanup campaign have gone back to their previous filthy state leaving their initiators gnashing their teeth and wondering where they went wrong.
To say the least; nobody went wrong somewhere. It is simply that the population living in urban areas has refused to bequeath their old dirty habits. This is characterised by poor management of household waste, indecent behavioral patterns including careless littering of streets, transformation of sidewalks into urinaries and even public toilets and spreading of foodstuff by roadsides.
The geometric growth in urban population has come to worsen things. Poorly unregulated houses spring up in marshy areas and on dangerous hills without any provision for waste disposal facilities.
Many structures under construction are abandoned and transformed into garbage. Popular markets shoot up like mushroom with uncoordinated segments where one fines women selling foodstuff near superlative shops.
The growing population has rendered things difficult for HYSACAM, the lone waste disposal company, hence the opening of the sector to competition. The frequency of HYSACAM trucks has reduced substantially in many quarters, notably in big cities like Yaounde and Douala. Where there is still a bit of regularity, the population does not seem to make things easy for the company.
Cases abound where people dump waste by the garbage cans which are still empty. Some deposit household waste far away from the cans. And when asked why they have to behave that way, they simply tell you, HYSACAM workers are paid for clearing up the mess.
The cleanup campaign is on but the results remain mitigated. In Yaounde for instance days selected for such campaigns are incidentally seriously respected. How this is being respected is another issue.
Business shops are shut down for the population to get their tools for general cleanup, but very few people are seen on the streets. In fact, many close their shops and simple wait for the campaign period to elapse so they get back to business.
Many inhabitants are not even aware of such campaign while some are surprised seeing shops shut. Council authorities must be pondering on what new strategy to adopt to get the population fully involved in this.
Maybe, it is time to get back to the old practice where sanitary inspectors were employed to help in supervising and identify people with ungentlemanly behaviour for sanctions.