Cameroon – Anglophone Crisis: Uneasy Calm Returns to Northwest after Drivers’ Protest against Military Extortion, Numerous Checkpoints

Par Atia T. AZOHNWI | Cameroon-Info.Net
Bamenda - 02-Dec-2019 - 19h00   2829                      
La Ville de Bamenda, Cameroun Archives
Drivers in Bali in the Northwest Region staged a sit down strike in Bamenda November 27 against what they termed numerous checkpoints mounted along the Bali and the Bambili runway.

The strike action, the drivers say, was meant to attract the attention of the authorities concerned to look into the matter, making sure that the situation is brought under control, with some of the checkpoints, which the drivers sees as a means of extorting money from them, removed.

According to the drivers, the men in uniform are taking advantage of the Anglophone Crisis to extort money from them. The drivers recount that from the City Chemist Roundabout to Bambili, there are seven checkpoints with some collecting FCFA 1,000 and others FCFA 500, while from Hospital Roundabout to Bali is a similar situation.

The strike action that was meant only for Bamenda-Bali drivers has also seen the involvement of taxi drivers plying the Bamenda City Chemist to Bambili stretch of road.

Consequently, many students who live in Bamenda Town to school in Bambili, were force to miss classes. This was because of limited taxis which suddenly led to increase in transport fare.

A student in UBa told The Post that “students who managed to go to school had to pay FCFA 1,000 from City Chemist, while those from Mile 3 and Mile 4 Nkwen were charged FCFA 700 as transport fares.” She added that those around Mile 5 and Mile 6 Nkwen who could have managed to go to school through motor bikes, could not go since bikes have been banned in most parts of Bambili.

Another student recounted her experience of 2018/2019 academic year where she was forced to miss a paper in the first semester exam due to a delay that was caused by a checkpoint in Mile 5 Nkwen, because the driver refused to “settle” the “control”, since he was carrying just four passengers which he said was a normal number of passengers.

It is alleged that men in uniform no longer bother about car documents, and are more interested in extorting money from the drivers. As a result, most drivers in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions do not go for their car documents any more.

The extortion by the military over drivers has forced drivers who ply the Bambili stretch of road with the habit of over-loading so as to make up for the expenses on the police, gendarme and military. They say, they are forced to carry seven passengers in a taxi without the military bringing them to order.

The strike action to the Bali drivers will continue till the administration sees into their plight. The decision on the sit down strike by the drivers comes a few days after the Senior Divisional Officer for Mezam, in a communiqué dated November 21, 2019, banned motorbikes in some parts of Bambili with reasons of maintaining security in the University area.


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