By Boris Esono Nwenfor (Cameroon)
Taxi drivers in Buea, chief town of the South West Region have called on municipal authorities to caution forces of law and order to desist from targeting them. They were speaking recently in Buea against the backdrop of repeated harassment and impoundment of commercial vehicles in the municipality.
Speaking during a crisis meeting at the esplanade of the Buea council as reported by HiTV, members of the three syndicate of taxi drivers (SYNTACAM, SN CHAUTAC and Buea Taxi Drivers Union), told municipal authorities that they are not the authors of “ghost town” popularly known as “country Sunday”, and so they should be treated as such.
The plea comes at a time when these taxi drivers have seen continuous harassment by security forces in the exercise of their duties. Speaking at a meeting with the Mayor of Buea some taxi scorn at the attitude of these law enforcement officers who go about extorting money from them for no just reason.
The situation has even been complicated according to some drivers with the recent actions by local authorities to seize taxis with the hope of forcing them to work on the said ghost town day. The last attempt to seize taxis caused the town to go on almost lockdown as many taxi drivers packed their vehicles at about 4pm, refusing to work until Tuesday.
This unfortunate situation forced many inhabitants in the town to work for long distances to their respective destinations. Market women were forced to carry their loads on their heads as there were almost no taxis on the road. Narrating his ordeal, one driver said: “did we start ghost town? Why has the focus turned only to drivers? Are we the ones to solve this problem Anglophone crisis?
“My brother, is there anybody in this world who hates money? We do not work because they are no passengers on the road on Mondays. Is there any normal human being that can fuel a car and rush up and down in Buea when there is no body to carry?”. “….I need money and I am not happy that activities on Mondays are crippled. So, they should think of ways to aid us and not making things more difficult for us as they are doing” another taxi driver stated.
Some drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity indicated to this reporter that there was to be a strike action against recent actions taken by local authorities but due to mistrust and backstabbing, the strike could not push through.
Another driver as reported by the Atlantics Chronicles sated that it could be easier for them to take an industrial action and stand by it as a union, but that the possibility for such a strong union has been dashed because the authorities strategically created three drivers’ unions in Buea, to be able to divide and rule them.
Taxi drivers are not the only people feeling the pressure to work on Mondays. Business people have in recent times gone under the sword. Shops in the municipality had been closed down in a bit to rid the town of the respect for ghost towns. The businesses have been opened with strong warning given to them not to respect the day and continue working on Monday as it is a working day as any other. All these efforts have gone a long way in making individuals carryon with their activities on the said day but many still respect the day for fear of insecurity and reparation from the “Amba” boys who will see them as “black legs”.