By Gracious Berinyu
Bamenda City Council has acquired and put at the disposal of the population of the chief town of the Northwest region of Cameroon, six minibuses to ferry people around town.
The buses were acquired to replace the over 2000 commercial motorcycles that have over the years, served as one of the main means of transportation in Bamenda town, and other neighbouring areas of the urban peripheries.
Many observers have pointed out that even putting aside the other challenges to be encountered by the said buses, like hostilities from Separatist fighters, the buses will be insufficient because they cannot serve the transportation needs of the town. Areas like Asire Old Church, Mulang, Ntamulung and others may not be able to benefit from the bus services because of issues of access, as well as hostilities from separatist fighters who have promised to attack the buses and its occupants.
Bamenda City Mayor, Paul Tambeng Achobang said during a session on Wednesday that the 18 seater buses, will be stationed in all three subdivisions, Bamenda I, II, and III. Users especially students will not be charged for three months, after which the population will have to pay FCFA 100 per drop for maintenance of the results. To the City Mayor, the buses will assuage the suffering of the city dwellers.
“I am grateful that we are able to launch the buses and am confident that the people of Bamenda will use this buses judiciously,” The city Mayor said.
Bamenda city dwellers have faced a transportation impasse for over three weeks and as such, they were obliged to trek for long distances. This was as a result of the ban, by the city’s administrators, on commercial motorcycle riders, and also a corresponding ban on other vehicles, by Separatists as a counter move to that of the city’s administrators.
Though with the pledge that the buses will offer free services for three months it is alleged that the promise was not kept as the population began paying the FCFA 100 two days after the buses were launched and put to use.
According to Northwest Governor, Adolphe Lele LAfrique, the decision to ban motorbikes and launch buses was supported by government officials and security forces. “Many of us in the city of Bamenda have taken this important decision to restrict the movement of motorbikes in some roads in Bamenda city as a result of the atrocities committed in this town by some of them”. He said. In March 2020 Cameroon’s minister of territorial administration, Mr Paul Atanga Nji visited Bamenda and instructed all the bike riders in the city to get a uniform and also register their bikes with a number plate matching that on their jackets. The move to him was to ease the tracking of separatist fighters who are operating in the town, using motorbikes.