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By Sylvester Atemnkeng* — Residents of Buea, Southwest Region, have recently become targets for reckless motorists who seem to take advantage of the removal of the ridge dividing the so-called Biya Boulevard to run down pedestrians. Two people have been knocked to death and many others left with broken limbs and other forms of injuries.

The ridge which stretched from Mile 17 to the Police roundabout, until recently, divided the road and somehow discouraged motorists from reckless driving habits such as hasty overtaking.
The removal of the dividing ridge is said to be in preparation for the visit of the Head of State Paul Biya to Buea to celebrate the 50th reunification anniversary of Cameroon. This has left the population of Buea perturbed by the increased number of accidents in the town, with many thinking that the removal of the ridge was thoughtless on the part of the authorities.

Several attempts to get statistics of accident cases on the road have borne little fruit as officials at the Buea Regional Hospital Annex are not free with information. However, so far, since the ridge was removed some two months ago, over a dozen people are reported to have been run down by cars. Many of the accidents, The Post learnt, occur at night. Destiny Fondencap, a township driver, said he has witnessed five accidents, which have sent victims to the hospital and to the grave. 

Fondecap said the accidents occur due to the reckless driving with some drivers overtaking on the track where the ridge was removed (middle of road) thereby knocking down unsuspecting commuters, majority of whom are yet to adapt to the modified road. Mrs. Jacqueline Nfi, a worker at the office of the Buea Taxi Drivers’ Union, told The Post that few weeks ago, a private car knocked down a boy in the middle of the road. Going by her, the boy had not mastered the new layout of the road without the dividing ridge.

She said Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are the most dangerous days in Buea for pedestrians, because the removal of corpses from the General Hospital on those days causes congestion. Despite this congestion, some reckless drivers still struggle to overtake from all directions without caring about the safety of the pedestrians. Mrs. Nfi suggested that in order to curb accidents on the road, commuters should make sure that the road is clear from both ends before crossing. She also advised the population to be smart while crossing the road.

“The road should be marked with white paint the ridge was removed so as to alert drivers to be cautious while driving. Pedestrian tracks have to equally be marked for people to know where and when to cross,” said Thomas Nalyonga, a taxi driver. Lucas Lantum, a teacher, who was in Buea to the mark the 2013 GCE examinations, said the police have to work hard in other to remedy the situation, by guiding drivers and also by helping the pedestrians.

“At times it takes up to ten minutes to cross the road because,” said Lantum. He added, “People should be cautious and not spend time where the ridges used to be, because it is dangerous. Some drivers don’t respect the track; they think they own the whole road.”  Meantime, many local inhabitants are seething with anger and threatening to take to the streets if nothing is done to stop the ghastly accidents.

*(National Polytechnic Bamenda Student on Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no 01445

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