By Soulemanu Buba
Fuel vendors in Bamenda, chief town of the restive North West Region of Cameroon have frowned at uniform officers for extorting them on a daily basis.
The vendors say the police, Gendarmerie officials and even the army rescue unit of the town make several rounds at their business sites where they forced the vendors to cough out money. The sums they say, range from FCFA 1,000 [about $2] and above.
One of the vendors told us that he spends not less than FCFA 10,000 [$20] a day settling uniform officers.
According to this vendor who opted for anonymity, the rounds these soldiers make is making life difficult for them.
“How would life not be difficult?” asked one of them, adding that, “the police, gendarmes and even the army rescue unit have been making life unbearable for us.”
“At times they pass more than once a day and when you refused giving them money, they would seize your products and sell to another vendor,” he lamented.
Another vendor who opted to be addressed only as Walters says he has also been a victim of extortion by uniform officers.
He explained: “We settle the numerous security checkpoints before the fuel enters Bamenda. Yet, we are still chased right in to the quarters where we manage to earn a living.”
“They claim the fuel is contraband, so why don’t say just block it from entering the country rather than allowing it to enter only to start chasing us around?” He questioned.
Some days back, a military vehicle belonging to the gendarmes at the Ntahbesse neighborhood in Nkwen Bamenda said to be notorious in this act of extortion was captured on camera. In the clip, soldiers manning the vehicle were seen collecting money from a vendor in Nkwen (location not precise for security reasons).
It should be noted that many raids have been conducted on what authorities call illicit fuel leading to the seizure of thousands of letters of the product. Authorities said after the raids that the thousands of litters of fuel were to be destroyed.
It was not clear back then whether the destruction actually took place or not, given that nothing was said about the seized products anymore.
Mimi Mefo Info