It is choicest market for the sale of second hand vehicles.
In our continuous series on presenting some specialized neighbourhoods in Douala, we are going to turn our gaze on 'Hotel le Ndé' as a hub for the distribution of second vehicles in Douala. 'Hotel Le Ndé' is the name of a hotel situated in Akwa neighbourhood but which has been extended to refer to the neighbourhood where second hand vehicles commonly referred to as 'occasion' are sold.
As would be expected the area is full of second vehicles from Europe, Japan and America. Unlike specialised sale houses as for bright new vehicles, dealers in second had vehicles sell vehicles from all types of manufactures, Honda, Suzuki, Peugeot, Renault or Toyota but the majority of vehicles sold there are Toyota vehicles. Here on can walk in and buy a car just as you would go to the bakery and buy bread or to the grocery store. The only difference is that you have to go to the nearby police station to legalise the sales certificate.
Everybody along the chain has a mark up in the sale; from the broker who brings a customer to a policeman who certifies the sales certificate passing through a beer for friends who witness the sale. Upon arrival in the vicinity, one is courted like a lady just to lure the customer. At times in the process of negotiation, other sellers try to win over the customer, making signs unnoticed to the colleague. "It is difficult to make a sale especially with the outbreak of the corona pandemic so when you see a customer, you don't joke", said Abessolo Gaby, a G-between in car sales. However, he attests that most of his customers are usually recommended by friends or relations in the quarter who solicit him to help them acquire a vehicle since they know he is into the car business. He says he can make up to about FCFA 300.000 in a sale depending on his power of negotiation between the buyer and the seller.
Tabi Jean, an importer of second hand vehicles says the business used to pay well in the past but today there are so many people in the business. Besides some people prefer to buy the car directly from Europe through a relation and import it to Cameroon since it is cheaper.
Close to the car sales point is a flourishing business of the sale of car accessories like the First Aid box, motor jack, wheel spanner, stop signal and so on. Insurance companies are tactically situates around the area such to capture new car owners.