By Abdu Solemanu
Commercial bike riders in Bamenda, capital of Cameroon’s restive North West region officers of the Central Police Station, Third District Police Station and the Gendarmes are fleecing money from them daily.
They say the security officers are using the restriction on the circulation of commercial bikes in the urban areas of Bamenda to extort money from them.
Speaking to MMI, the bikers say they are forced to pay huge sums of money before their bikes are released to them.
Derick, a commercial biker in Bamenda narrated to MMI what he went through on Saturday, 26 March 2022:
“I had just carried my first passenger for the day. We were going to the Regional Hospital in Bamenda. The police at Meta Quarters stopped us and asked me to present myself. I did just that only for them to tell me I had violated the decision banning bikes in the urban center of Bamenda. I was taken alongside my bike to the Central Police Station at Old Town where the officer in room 6 asked me to pay 30000 FCFA”
Derick added that he pleaded and was finally forced to pay the money when he was threatened with arrest. Derick is just one of the hundreds of young persons struggling to make a living with motor bikes but are facing a big challenge from security forces.
Just like Derick, Afumbom who said, he escaped insecurity in Babanki and found solace in Bamenda said his bike was seized at Commercial Avenue by elements of the third District Police Station,
“It was in the early hours of the day around Fon’s Street, Commercial Avenue in Bamenda.My bike was seized and taken to the police post. They said the Fon’s Street area was a no go area for bikes. I ended up paying 27000FCFA before regaining my bike,” Afumbom narrated.
Quizzed on wether the bike riders’ unions has been of any help, Derick said they are more of puppets for the councils,
“We have complained to the unions but they are rather interested in begging rice from the councils to feed us as if we lack food. We just want our rights to be respected, we are operating in a difficult terrain and such a tense control should not exist. As far as I am concerned, we don’t have a trade union”, Derrick narrated.
The riders have also indicated that if the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to their worries, they will continue paying the monies to the forces and hunt the officers later on.
“We know where they eat and drink, we transport them at times in the night especially at up station, we can easily wipe them out,” Theordore, (not his real name) a biker at up station Bamenda said.
Others say they will start fighting with them at the checkpoints despite the consequences.