By Soulemanu Buba
Drivers plying the Bamenda-Mamfe road have grounded their vehicles in protest against what they termed numerous checkpoints and extortion by soldiers stationed on the road.
Several potential travellers have been stranded as a result of the strike, and drivers say the strike, which started on Tuesday, February 1, would continue next week if their cry is not heard by the administration.
One of the drivers said military officers officers have told them to join Ambazonia separatist fighters if they can’t cope with the ongoing military-police extortion that has become rampant on roads across the Northwest and Southwest regions.
“From Bamenda to Bali, there are 10 checkpoints erected by government forces. There are eight from Hospital Roundabout to Mile 90 Nsongwa. Each of them collects 1,000 francs, meaning we pay 10,000 francs on a distance of slightly above 20 kilometers,” lamented one of the drivers who spoke to MMI on condition of anonymity.
“After 2pm, it moves to 14,000 francs, given that the soldiers always say it’s a new control and we must settle,” he said, adding that they are tied of the routine.
“When we complain, they will provoke us by saying we should pick up arms and join Amba. Some even threaten to pull the trigger whenever we want to resist giving them money.”
He told MMI the numerous military checkpoints have forced them to increase transport fare in order to cope with the ordeal, but this is usually heavy on the crisis-hit population, who are also struggling with rising cost of living.
“We are tired of charging our poor parents high because we want to satisfy uniformed officers who are civil servants and at the same time taking care of their families,” the driver said.
The strike action by drivers in Bamenda is not an isolated case of drivers trying to resist unfair military controls and extortion in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
Similarly, drivers plying the Buea-Kumba-Mamfe road also grounded their vehicles last week to protest against military extortion along the road.
The drivers say they want authorities to dismantle illegal checkpoints usually mounted by greedy officers to extort money from drivers and passengers, and to effectively monitor soldiers stationed to maintain law and order on the roads.
Mimi Mefo Info