I slept at Necla Hotel Bamenda for six nights. It was very amazingly beautiful especially for the service quality compared to price. Their rooms cost between 10,000frs cfa to 20,000frs cfa otherwse 20 USD or 40 USD per night. All rooms have both hot and cold water, TV and Cable and most interestingly Internet which was free and of good speed. I also enjoyed the cusine that for all the time gave morethan i espected in terms of frshness of food and quality.
Their view to the foodmarket through the wind turnel coridor or the higlands of Bamenda fom the balconies if second to none.
The gangs of thieves at Ayaba Hotel in Bamenda
Ayaba Hotel once the pride and beacon of hope for better things to come for Bamenda has degenerated to a den that harbors thieves who are encouraged, protected and facilitated by the management of the hotel. These thieves target foreign guests who have a limited stay.
Many people, just like me, stay at this hotel because it is supposedly safe. Yes it is safe alright, from the outside, but the real thieves lurk within it's walls, in-house reared, well positioned, protected, provided encouragement and enhancement in their capabilities by the management of the hotel.
This is a recount of one of the numerous thefts at this hotel.
Late night on Saturday 3rd January, 2009 (early Sunday 01/04/2009) I left my room at Ayaba hotel at 12:20 am for the night club in the basement of the same building. Before leaving my room I opened my bag, got out some money and put the rest of the money back in the bag and zipped it. The money left in the bag was 1,200, 000 francs CFA and 1,200 US dollars in two separate envelopes in the same compartment in the bag.
I left my room alone, locked the door, went downstairs and handed the key to the reception before going down to the night club. I left the night club at about 4:45am, alone, came to the reception, was given my key, went up to my room and slept after locking the door behind me. When I got up Sunday morning and opened my bag to get some money for breakfast I was absolutely shocked that all the money was gone. I immediately alerted the director of the hotel who called in the commissioner of the judicial police Old Town. During this meeting with the police commissioner, the hotel director and myself, one of the receptionists who had worked that night was questioned, there were two receptionists that night. The receptionist asked me if I was familiar with any of their colleagues at the hotel. It was then that it dawned on me that the only hotel employee who was close to me because he was always readily available to run errands, help carry my bags and perform other pertinent services ( example, he advised me on how to reduce the room rate by talking to the director) was Mr. Maurice Nkwenti. He was the only hotel employee whom I had informed that I was in Cameroon to pay for my land title and tend to other businesses. He was the only hotel employee who had been to my room.
That fateful night he was the only hotel employee who knew my itinerary since I met him at the gate to the night club and he later came down to the night club and asked me for a drink and tried to introduce a lady to me and I rejected both. While at the night club he saw that I had company and would not be going to my room early. He had access to room keys since his work location was also in the reception area.
When other employees heard of my money being stolen they each , without the knowledge of the others, asked if Maurice Nkwenti had worked that night and when it was affirmed that he did work they would indicate by various expressions, verbal and physical, that it was no coincidence that he was working when the money was stolen. Then I was told that he had stolen from a white lady's room while she lodged at the hotel, but since the aggrieved had left when the case was called up in court he was let go. I was also told of the numerous times that he had been accused by ladies for stealing money, cell phones and other articles out of their bags. One of his duties was to safe-keep ladies bags!!!!
When I got to his house, prior to the Gendarmes who arrested him, he was absent but his wife told me that he had gone to look for a plot to buy and that they had been renting for awhile and it would be nice to have a place of their own. When the spouse returned and saw me he panicked, sweat rolled down his forehead, his hands trembled and he looked as if he had just seen the devil.
This was my third stay at Ayaba hotel and I had never been informed in any manner, written or oral, that they had a safe or that they could keep your money or valuables. I was only informed of this service after my money had been stolen.
The thieves and their accomplices target mostly customers from abroad who have a limited time to stay in the country. They are seasoned at manipulating the legal and judiciary systems in their favor by wetting their greedy appetites, employing delay tactics, making files disappear, creating obstructions, planting seeds of futility, intimidating with the intent to persuade the aggrieved to abandon seeking justice or letting time run out so he or she leaves.
These are some of the tactics that were used in this case. Someone tried to intimidate me by getting two of their accomplices to send two convocations to me on Saturday January 24, 2009 to appear at the Mile Four Nkwen police station and the gendarmerie Up Station. Why will I be asked to appear at a police station in Nkwen or Gendarmarie Up Station when the theft committed against me was at Ayaba hotel in Old Town? What happened to the police station in Old Town? Was someone deliberately trying to get me to go to where their accomplices were? Were some people feeling uncomfortable and nervous?
The Gendarmarie station Up Station was the same office that for three days after the accused was arrested did not conduct any investigations in spite of the fact that they demanded and received from me a service fee and credit to their phones to conduct the investigation. It was only when the State Counsel came down to their office that they went down to the hotel to conduct interviews. Of course I had given a written statement of what happened and had been interviewed by the commandant, his assistant and another junior officer. The same junior officer who supposedly took the untraceable case files to the State Counsel’s office. The files that were signed for as received, with a signature that was not from anyone working for that office. The file had disappeared into thin air.
These guys have worked out the details of these thefts down to a science: who, how, when, what. Their accomplices are ready and well positioned to intimidate, dissuade, frustrate and obstruct the aggrieved. How many thefts have been committed at Ayaba? Countless. According to the employees there have been so many thefts there that it is no news when another one is reported. The difference is only in the amounts stolen, from cell phones, cameras, and money from women’s hand bags to millions of francs CFA stolen from rooms.
When I asked the director of the hotel why he would still employ someone with such a questionable background he told me that he could not fire him for fear of being sued. If his hands were tied as he claims why put the suspect in a position where he still had access to customer keys, bags and purses? Was this the first time that he had been suspected of stealing? According to his colleagues he had also been suspected and accused in many instances for stealing money and cell phones from women’s bags. The personnel director of the hotel also claims to have rescued him several times from being prosecuted for stealing and had helped him out of many unsettled situations, including getting him released when he was locked up for stealing from the white lady at the hotel. Yet he worked at the reception “safe-keeping” bags!!!!! What an irony! He had full access to customer keys at the reception. Talk about putting meat in front of the lion. Was this a coincidence? Poor management skills? Amnesia? Or opportunity? Why could he not work in other areas where he had little contact with customers, like in the kitchen washing dishes or in the yard tending the grounds? Why was he being protected and facilitated by the management of Ayaba? Is this a one-man crime spree or a well organized, systematic mutually beneficial relationship between management and a band of in-house thieves?
The last time that I stayed at this hotel another employee who worked at the bar overbilled me continuously until one of my guests remarked that the bill was twice what it should be. When I asked this employee to provide a written bill, which he had never provided before, he was caught red handed and he pleaded with me to forgive him. This was at the end of my stay. So how much did he get away with? Come to think that I tipped him every time. I did not think much of this until the present situation.
How long are we going to allow the image and reputation of this hotel and Bamenda to be tarnished? Are these people beyond the law because of their network of accomplices and protectors? How long will they continue to manipulate the judiciary and legal systems to protect and shield them from prosecution? Until there is a management team focused on real positive change, safety and the removal of the gang of thieves that have taken a strangle hold on this hotel I will advise anyone who wants to protect their hard earned assets to avoid this hotel or if they must stay there to be aware and apprehensive of the real and actual risks of staying there under the present management.
January 31, 2009.
The thief, Maurice Nkwenti, went back to work at Ayaba Hotel immediately after I left in spite of the pretentious enunciation by the same personnel director that he will never work at Ayaba Hotel again. Who are they fooling? How many of these in-house thieves are there at Ayaba Hotel? How much are they stealing from hotel customers and sharing with the management of this hotel?
February 25, 2009.
Beautful building and great location but facilities are poorly maintained.
I chose this hotel because rooms were air conditioned, allowing exclusion of mosquitos, It is widely advertised as Bamenda's best, and it clearly was quite the luxury hotel when built. However, it is equally clear that maintenance has been neglected for many years. Cracked floor tiles and peeling wall paper abound. The exterior door handles had been removed from all of the doors on my floor, making them very difficult to open. The swimming pool, though filled with water, is evidently no longer in use. Counterprductive efforts to save money are in evidence elsewhere. The front desk operation is understaffed and disorganized, the restaurant offered only an uninviting buffet, which I strongly suspect was responsible for a bout of intenstinal distress, and the lighting of the large lobby is so dim as to be extremely depressing. My room was adequate but no more. (Don't be deceived by the web site, which makes the hotel look much better than it is.)
After my digestive system recovered, I had a couple of very good meals at the nearby Mondial Hotel, which appeared to offer much better value.
One good feature of the Ayaba is that there is an affiliated car rental service, which offered good service at a reasonable price for a trip to the countryside, but one can access this without staying at the hotel.
I am currently staying in the Belo Rest House on a long term basis for the duration of my stay. It is clean, has flushing toilets, a gas cooker, fresh sheets and is cheap. There are 8 rooms available however some are taken on a long term basis by volunteers. It is situated in the centre of Belo 3 corners village and has a nice garden. Rooms cost 3000cfa pp/pn
It is central, modern, clean, cheap and has shower, flushing toilet, gas cooker, and a nice garden.
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