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Kumba Taxi Drivers, City Council Battle Over Passes 

By Marceline Chick — The Kumba Township Taxi Drivers Union, KUTTADRA, has opened a battle with the Kumba City Council, over the sale of passes. The drivers, on July 4, which is the traditional day for “keep Kumba clean campaign”, mounted barricades at the BICEC Junction.

KUTTADRA members fighting for the sale of passes

They lamented that the City Council has rendered them financially bankrupt by taking over the sale of passes to taxis during clean-up campaign days. Worse still, the drivers complained that the Government Delegate, Victor Nkelle Ngoh, awarded the contract to his younger brother who is treating drivers rudely.

According to one Stephen Ngole, the tussle between the two parties started recently when the City Council began selling passes to drivers. He said it has been their tradition that every first Thursday of the month all taxis stop circulation but for those with passes. He said the SDO usually signs at most 80 passes for circulation, with each costing FCFA 1000.

The driver disclosed that since the inception of KUTTADRA many years ago, they have been raising funds to run the union from the sales of these passes, until the Government Delegate seized it from them. Ngole said, angered by this action, KUTTADRA members also issued their own passes to drivers.

He explained that the contractor from the City Council reacted by impounding taxis with passes from KUTTADRA, while those who bought from the City Council were allowed to work freely on July 4. The drivers mounted barricades, stormed the streets of Kumba chanting songs and asking the City Council to let them go. When the rioters reached the City Council, they were stopped by police officers at the gate, though they continued chanting.

A few minutes later, the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, for Meme, David Koulbout Aman, arrived with his entourage and concerted with a representative of the drivers. The Vice President of the Union, Gabriel Ajebe, explained their frustration over the pass issue and how the union is crumbling financially.

In this light, Koulbout faulted him for going on the street rather than to his office to complain. The SDO said the City Council seized the sales of passes from taxi drivers because KUTTADRA is not organised. He added that the idea of selling passes on clean-up campaign days is not to raise funds but to help passengers to move within the city.

Koulbout told the drivers that the City Council is not run by funds from the sales of passes. However, he ordered the release of the taxis impounded and announced that he would organise a meeting with both parties to determine the cancelation of the sales of passes to taxi drivers.

While Nkelle instructed the contractor to release the impounded vehicles, he retorted to the drivers, “You see the trouble you have caused? We shall be on the road on every keep Kumba clean days and any taxi caught on the road shall get it hot from us.”

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