Young men fetch oysters from the Wouri River and transform to animal feed.
The Wouri River is not only a tourist attraction in Douala but more importantly a source of livelihood for many people living along the banks of the river. People carry out fishing or mining by removing sand from the river and selling for building construction. But unknown to many people, is the fact that the Wouri River is also full of oysters and its exploitation constitutes an economic activity that feeds many in the economic capital.
The exploitation of oysters is done around 'Fin Goudron Bonamikano' in the Bonaberi neighbourhood, about a hundred metres from the sand pit. The trade is organised such that there are people who go out to the river to fetch the oysters, while another group is specialised in processing the collected oysters to animal feed for onward sale to individuals and companies. The fetchers go far into the river with canoes and collect the oysters which they in turn sell to the processors at the bank of the river. The processors buy and mix it with sand which they burn before grounding and putting in bags of 50kg and sell to the public.
The collected oysters are placed in heaps by the river banks and the price negotiated on the basis of the mass and the size of the oysters which are of two kinds, big and small. The price of a heap range from FCFA10.000 to 15.000. After buying, the processor mixes the oysters with sand and burn with the help of splinted logs of wood. After burning, they may sell directly or ground it into little particles before selling. Companies with grounding machine prefer to buy the ungrounded type and ground themselves whereas individuals prefer to buy the grounded type to use in feeding their animals. Oysters are said to be rich in calcium and therefore a good aliment for animals and chicken. A 50kg bag of feed from oysters can cost about 25000.
The area is busy like a beehive as young men can be found offloading oysters fresh from the water or mixing the oysters with sand or burning with thick clouds of smoke rising from the area. According to Mbella Essome, a processor, activities around the bank of the river are now low keyed as the road leading to the area is under construction with the construction company constantly blocking the road. At other moments, he says the area is busier than even the sand pit about a hundred metres above the bank. He says the activity provides a source of income to about fifty youths in the neighbourhood mostly of Duala extraction. Viewed from a distance the oysters look like white sand and it is only upon approaching that one realise it isn't sand. The river bank at this juncture is equally used as a place for baptism by a Pentecostal church nearly and also as place for relaxation for lovers who come to admire the view of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.