Taxi drivers have recently been caught in the web of Separatist fighters (their cars burnt) and Government officials (taxis impounded) whether or not they ply the road on Monday. It is in this light that taxi drivers in Buea have reaffirmed their decision to work on Mondays only if their security would be guaranteed. They jointly spoke recently during a meeting decrying the fact that taxi drivers have been placed at the centre of political issues in the country.
Akwe Edwin, President of the National Syndicate of Taxi Drivers in Cameroon, SYNTACAM, said he decided to invite drivers and hold a discussion with them because of the prevailing insecurity and dicey political situation in the country.
After a brief deliberation, they resolved that they are willing to work on Mondays but that due to insecurity, their operation doing so could become very risky. They, however, appealed that the administration should do something as far as peace is concerned in the country.
“I think that there is no one who loves the country more than another. We are all Cameroonians and we believe that if we have to play our role, it is to support whoever stands for peace so that peace should reign in the country, especially in the two English speaking Regions,” Akwe noted.
He said the message is that taxi drivers need peace. “We are appealing to the Government to do something about this problem. It is not really easy because when we talk of insecurity, it is not possible to leave our homes when we are not sure of our security. He stood on the fact that most administrators are moving with the military or police guards, while they (drivers) don’t have a guaranteed security but are expected to ply the road on a risky day like Monday.
“They have burnt so many cars in Buea and last time we had a meeting with the mayor, I personally asked a question to the mayor on what the council has done to support those drivers whose vehicles were burnt because they worked on Monday, but no concrete answer was given. If there is peace and security, I think everyone will resume their duty.”
Samuel Molombe, another branch President of S/N SYNCHTACAM stated that he was very impressed about the meeting after a series of crisis recently which really affected township drivers. “As Presidents of the various taxi drivers’ syndicates we are not politicians but out to defend our drivers to fight for their problems. We are praying that God tempers justice with mercy. Our drivers should be allowed as far as the crisis is concerned” he implored. Molombe prayed that God should step in and touch the leaders of Cameroon, so that they should go deep into the problem so that this issue should be resolved emphasizing on the much needed peace and dialogue.
“Drivers are saying that they should stop using them because they are not politicians and which that message has to flow” he indicated. On whether they will be working on Mondays, he said security is the best, for without security, he has nothing else to say. He added that he was just the president and drivers have their proprietors, so the decision has to come from drivers and their proprietors.
Denis Musumbe, an elected President of Buea SYNCHTACAM also held that ‘Ghost town’ wasn’t spearheaded by taxi drivers syndicates but that it appears the blame is being placed on them or they are being put at the centre of the crisis. As a president, he recounted that he has been a victim of the burning of taxis which till date he hasn’t a car with which he could go out and work. “Even though our security may be guaranteed when we work on Mondays,” Musumbe stated, the problem is that those burning cars don’t burn taxis during the day but at night and in some cases, even kill drivers.
Another driver who spoke to The Rambler revealed that, on a certain ‘ghost town’ Monday while he was working, he came across a BIR official who asked him where he was going and whether he wasn’t scared of his life. This, according to the driver reveals that even if they work on Monday, their security cannot not be guaranteed because if a military personnel could say such to him, it means they themselves know the risk on the ground and are not ready to protect drivers.
Many of the drivers who attended the meeting, noted that a meeting was held at the council during which the Mayor emphasized that taxis that don’t work on Mondays will not be impounded but if those who did not work on Monday decide to do so from Tuesday and beyond, then a penalty shall be slammed on them.
This according to the drivers will rather intensify the ‘ghost towns’ because if all drivers receive a penalty for working on Tuesday and not Monday, then they will continue the ‘ghost town’ by not working at all.
By Relindise Ebune