The city of Bamenda in the Northwest Region of Cameroon can unarguably be termed the epicenter of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis. Recently, Bamenda has been in chaos, with random attacks by separatist fighters, rampant kidnapping and exchange of gunfire between the military and the separatists in the main town, whose stray bullets have left some civilians lifeless. Recently in order to curb the level of insecurity in this town, the government authorities ordered for the non-circulation of commercial bikes in the town. This decision has left most denizens in a limbo.
Commercial bike riding have been the source of livelihood for many, especially the youths who live in the Northwest region of the Cameroon. Following the killing of a police officer in Bamenda the authorities in charge of the northwest region held a security meeting on September 04, where they decided to ban motor bikes from plying in certain parts of the region. This decision, according to the Governor of Northwest Adolphe Lele L’Afrique , together with the Bamenda City Mayor, Paul Achobong, Mezam Senior Divisional Officer Mooh Emile with representatives of the various syndicates, is to step up protection of the people and their properties.
According to the city Mayor the inconveniences caused by the decision made is temporary. The city Mayor says the inhabitants of Bamenda will adjust to the inconveniences caused.” Setting a demarcation of where motorcycles should operate and where they should not is not a punitive measure but a protective and security one that will benefit everyone in Bamenda. Our intention is not to render anyone jobless but if a commercial motorcycle thinks his area of work is too small to make money, then he can reconvert to become a taxi driver and operate in the entire city of Bamenda.
Vernyuy Samuel, 28 has been been a bike rider in the city of Bamenda for 6 years. The father of 1 despite the crisis has been able to make regular savings as well as providing the basic needs of his family. With the restriction of motorbikes, Vernyuy is not sure of fulfilling his role as the breadwinner of the house, talk less of making his regular savings as was the case before. “Apart from biking, I have no other hand work that can keep me going till the ban on motor bikes is lifted. How will I take care of my family? For how long are we going to continue like this? I think it is high time for the government of Cameroon to provide lasting solutions to this crisis”, Vernuy Samuel said.
This decision which took effects on September 07, witnessed a major set back in economic activities of the town as many were seen using trucks and bicycles for transportation. This has crippled the city for some days as the taxi drivers allegedly received threats from separatist fighters. The Mayor encouraged the drivers to overcome fear and defeat. He also reiterates that, “99% of commercial motorcycle riders in Bamenda are honorable people but they are few bad ones. Separatists sometimes force them and use their motorcycles to carry out their crimes”.
In other towns like Buea, in the Southwest Regions of Cameroon, commercial bikes have been completely banned from plying the main streets. Buea still suffering from security unrest with neighborhoods like Muea, Bomaka are still experiencing gunshots between the military and separatist fighters.
The bikes will not be allowed to ply Azire New church – Hospital Round About, Azire Old Church – Hospital Round About,City Chemist -Vertinery Junction,Finance Junction – Foncho Street, Cow Street to Ghana street , T. junction-Commercial Avenue -City Chemist , City Chemist Rendez- vous-Army Rescue-City Council, City Council-Vertinary junction,Foncha street junction-Ntaseng-City Council, Bamenda I Main Market-Governor’s Junction-Finance Junction , Custom Junction-Mile I, City Chemist, Hospital Round About-Food market – City Chemist-Vertinary Junction- Ayaba Hotel, – T Junction etc.
As per the time this report is written the city of Bamenda is gradually turning back to normal as taxi and bikes can be seen on the roads.