The local politician said the average man on the streets of Limbe is worried about the health and environmental hazards they will have to bear as smoke billows from four out of the 13 production units at the refinery. With experts counting the cost of the SONARA fire in billions of FCFA, Zama says it’s time to go back to the drawing board to negotiate the relationship between the locals and SONARA.
Hear him: “Forget the money, forget the numbers currently circulating as money required for reconstruction and lost revenue. To most of the locals, SONARA meant very little to them. What worries the common man in the streets of Mokundange in Limbe is what would be the consequences of the hazardous burning on them.”
On March 2, 2011, Zama had presented findings of a project which show that Cameroon’s lone refining company located in Limbe was doing little or nothing in assuming its corporate social responsibility. The research was carried out by a Cameroonian non-governmental organization, African Center for Research, Development and Climate Change (AFREDECC) at the head of which was Zama.
Theirs was to “evaluate the impact of SONARA’s engagement with the population in general” and was funded by PASOC, a subprogram of European Union in Cameroon. The two-week survey was carried out in August 2010.
At the time, Zama said up to 88% of the 3,500 people polled said they had not benefited from any SONARA-sponsored activity. Of the 12% who admitted having benefited said they gained assistance in form of health care, education and water.
“This clearly shows that a large number of people have never benefited from a SONARA-funded project,” the findings revealed. Zama said they had submitted to SONARA their findings and recommendations in the hope that it would improve relations with the surrounding communities and the public in general.
Contacted by Cameroon-info.net on June 4, 2019 after Friday’s fire accident said to be the result of a technical fault, Zama regrets that the recommendations they made close to a decade ago were never given due attention.
“For most of the people in Limbe, they are in a very lonely place right now. It’s very funny because every time the locals ask for more information and community investment by SONARA, they were repeatedly told SONARA is a national company,” Zama said.
He adds that: “Today, they have to face a hazardous situation by themselves and the nation is not even willing to give them full disclosure. No information is filtering out, many are panicking and confused.
“Our research showed that an overwhelming percentage of the population were willing to engage with the corporation to find ways to mitigate the effects of the corporations activities if only they knew how to.
“However, the rapprochement has been very poor. This is not a time for blame games but a time for reflection and taking stock. At the end of all these, we hope what comes out would be of general good to Limbe and the nation.”