By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo
Drivers along the Bamenda-Nkambe Highway have decried the numerous checkpoints on the stretch of road, which they said, are gradually rendering them jobless, given the widespread extortion on the highway by security operatives.
According to some of the drivers, who elected for anonymity, each day, a driver loses between FCFA 8000 to FCFA 10,000 on the highway to security officers without any explanations. The drivers are irked by the fact that the money collected from them sink into a private pocket and not the State treasury.
They made the revelation in an interview they granted to The Post in Kumbo recently.
“Settling the numerous control points along this stretch of road is not a new thing to us, but what is sad is the fact that one is subjected to give what the police wants without any explanation,” a driver stated.
According to these drivers, security operatives collect as much as FCFA 240,000 for every car that plies the Bamenda Ring Road monthly.
“Let us make a simple arithmetic calculation of what these controls take from us in a month. Since they collect FCFA 8000 per day, if you multiplying FCFA 8000 by 30 days, it will give you a total of FCFA 240,000. Take the FCFA 240,000 per car in a month and multiply it by the number of cars plying this road. Let us say there are 50 cars; it means these control points fleece FCFA 12 million from drivers annually,” a driver lamented.
Another driver added that, “it baffles me a lot because they do not check our cars. Whether you are carrying weapons in your car or not is not their problem, if you can give them what they want. Even if you have all the car documents, you will still give them money,” he said.
“The problem here is that no one is ready to do anything to address the situation. If we complain, we will be called, terrorists, secessionists and troublesome people.
As earlier as 4:00 am, these controls are already there, meaning that you can’t escape from falling into their trap,” a driver narrated.
The Post learnt that this phenomenon has been ongoing for years. For once, drivers along this road have complained, but their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, there are over six police controls from Bamenda to Kumbo, headquarters of Bui Division and at each control point, the driver is expected to dole out FCFA 1000.
While road control teams are being blamed for promoting the high rate of corruption along the Bamenda-Nkambe stretch of road, observers hold that drivers are also culpable of some the highway misdemeanors.
“Most of them ply the road without the required documents. This makes it difficult for them to stand up and denounce the widespread corruption on the highway. Most often it is the drivers themselves who bribe the police officers on duty and these police officers have now legitimized this practice,” a traveler told this reporter.
Meanwhile, some passengers on board a bus headed for Kumbo, told The Post that they are aware of what is going on along the Bamenda- Nkambe Highway and that the passengers are the ones who suffer most from the game between the drivers and the police
“Drivers now sandwiched passengers in cars just to make up for what they will give the police officers on the way. A car that is supposed to carry only four persons ends up carrying eight to nine people. We are tired of all these things happening in front of us. Those manning the controls don’t even care about our lives, what they only think about is their money. It’s really bad, but what can we do?” a passenger asked rhetorically.
However, attempt to get reactions from police officers on the control points did not yield any fruits, as they either preferred to remain silent or insult you to mine your business.
Nevertheless, the extortion on the highway is really alarming and many passengers are praying for the Government to step in and put an end to it.