By Tata Mbunwe
Government statistics reveal that Cameroon records an estimate of 16,583 road accidents each year, which killed over 1,000 people, although the World Health Organization estimates the yearly death toll to be 6,000 deaths per annum.
These worrisome statistics prompt questions as to what could be the cause of the plethora of accidents on our Cameroonian roads, which have claimed precious lives, causing enormous material damages.
Frequent road accidents are not strange in the country. Still bordering on the statistics, between 2010 and 2018, 22,314 road accidents occurred, killing 8,669 people, according to Business in Cameroon, an online economic news platform.
According to WHO 2017 report, road accident-related deaths in Cameroon reached 6,560 that year and accounted for 2.97 percent of the total yearly deaths.
Although several factors could account for the numerous accidents, one of the unarguable causes is the dilapidated nature of roads, amid loose road regulations.
Buses also are usually crammed and made to carry passengers almost double their normal capacities but such overloaded buses still pass the series of police checkpoints littered on the roads.
It is common to find a 70-seater bus, carrying up to 90 passengers, ignoring cautioning calls for social distancing amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Equally, the bad nature of our roads has influenced road accidents in the country. Most Cameroonian roads were constructed during the colonial era, several decades ago.
Despite having numerous potholes, these roads are hardly rehabilitated, yet day-by-day, uniform officers stand on them to collect huge sums of money, huge chunks of which go into private pockets.
Road safety officials also seem to be playing safe with drivers against their responsibility of checking overloading and compliance with road safety measures.
Transport Ministry’s road safety unit hardly carry out genuine road checks as officials trade human lives on the platter of corruption.
The Ministry has several times been rated as the most corrupt in the country as supposed road agents allowed drivers to ply the road after paying huge sums of “settlement”.
The situation seems to be worsened by the nature of most vehicles plying Cameroonian roads, with most of them being already “outdated”.
A few years back, the Government claimed to have imposed high import duties on old cars to discourage the purchase and use of outdated vehicles, but the gymnastics at the level of implementing the measure has been another issue.
The majority of vehicles plying the Yaounde-Bafoussam, and Douala-Bafoussam-Bamenda roads are very old and potentially in bad shape.
Yet all these factors, which authorities are cognizant about, have been given deaf ears as road accidents continue ripping lives away.
Mimi Mefo Info