Insecurity strikes Bangui residents

Since the ousting of President François Bozize when the rebel Seleka Alliance attacked the capital, the Central African republic (CAR) has been confronted with a security crisis. This instability has particularly afflicted Bangui, leading to increases in food prices, unemployment and banking restrictions for residents.

IRIN reports: “Before, a sack of peanuts was 30,000 CFA francs [US$61], but now it’s 55,000- 60,000 [$111-122], making it difficult for us to buy,” said Ahmed Hassan, a wholesale peanut seller in marché du kilomètre 5, the largest market in Bangui. “If you buy at 60,000 CFA, you only sell very small quantities. Customers are complaining a lot.”

Numerous checkpoints on the main roads into the city provide an opportunity for racketeers to impose illegal taxes and extort bribes, and traders have to pass on these costs to their customers.

“The difficulties are at the checkpoints. When you arrive, you are told to unload all your goods so they can check you are not concealing weapons, and then you have to pay – that’s the main problem…” Hassan said.

Instability has also led to large-sale unemployment due to economic decline and suffering businesses. Lay-offs and stalled payments are common, with civil servants in the capital not being paid for the past two months. Banking restrictions have ensured long queues and limited access to cash.

“We’ve suffered big losses amounting to 100 million CFA [$202,400], so there’s been a big slow-down in our business and financial activities. Economic realities are forcing us to lay off workers,” said Jean-Gilles Kanko, the country general manager of TNT Express.

The owner of an academic computer centre in Bangui was forced to lay off all his 55 staff members after the establishment was looted and burned. “I do not know what to do. I wrote to the head of state, I wrote to the minister, but no one answered me,” he said.

For more information on the effects of insecurity in Bangui on residents on urban residents visit IRIN.

Image via Wikimedia Commons user Afrika Force


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