By Kevin Agbor
Bike riders in Cameroon’s Northwest Region are not having it easy, as they are faced with two uncompromising forces; the Region’s administrators, ordering them to register bikes and paint them with a unique yellow colour, and uncompromising Separatist fighters on the other hand, warning that respecting the administrators will be tantamount to forfeiting one’s bike, because it will be seized and burnt.
Following prescriptions from the Minister of Territorial Administration, Mr Paul Atanga Nji, security operatives have engaged in an aggressive campaign, confiscating and impounding bikes of commercial riders who have not fulfilled the administration’s set modalities
Out of frustration, the bikers on Tuesday, April 14, took to the streets of Bamenda demanding the release of their impounded motorbikes, but were intercepted by a mixed contingent of the Military and police officers at the Up Station hill, where the Divisional Officer for Bamenda 1 talked with the protesting riders.
Addressing the commercial bikers, the DO for Bamenda 1, Gilbert Guibai Balelena, remarked that, “We are in a country of law; everywhere here in Bamenda, you have a Sub Divisional Officer. When you want to express yourselves on what you don’t accept, go and see one of the DOs”. After harping on procedures to follow in order to lodge a complaint, Mr Gilbert Guibai Balelena told the protesting riders to select representatives who will talk to the administration on their behalf.
One of the riders who spoke to The Post lamented that they are caught between State officials and Separatists fighters in the Region. “We have received a stern warning from our brothers in the bushes that should we succumb to the order of spraying of bikes, we will see our bikes burnt before our own very eyes. If they burn our bikes, who are we going to hold accountable?” he asked.
The rider told The Post that they are ready and willing to fulfil all the requirements except that obliging them to spray all their bikes with a unique colour, yellow. To him, the Government should understand their plight and compromise on the spraying of bikes option, so that they do not face the risk of losing their livelihoods if they run into Separatist fighters in the Region.
Where Are The New Bikes Impounded By Officers Kept?
Apart from protesting against the painting of their bikes, some riders have also raised an alarm that some of the new bikes impounded by officers are nowhere to be found, as only old and broken bikes can be seen. Some of the riders expressed fears that their bikes may never be found and that they might have been sold out by unscrupulous officers and their command, after they were impounded.
Concerning the various documents requested from the riders by Government, The Post was told at the Bamenda City Council that the documents comprised Photocopy of Identity Card, driver’s license, insurance, number plate, Jackets, ‘categris’ and a spray of yellow colour.