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Tricycle Passenger Transportation Banned In Douala 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr
— Over the past two years, tricycles have been gaining swelling popularity as a means of passenger transport across Cameroon’s largest city Douala, competing with motorbike taxis and conventional yellow cabs.

Experts say their bulging occurrence is largely prompted by dire urban mobility inadequacies in a rapidly expanding city marked by galloping numbers of inhabitants.  But despite the welcome reserved the trikes by city dwellers, authorities are moving to ban their transportation of people.

Littoral Governor Joseph Beti Assomo has announced a prohibition of the activity with effect from next July 1 across the region.  He made the disclosure Monday June 11 on the sidelines of a mid-year security coordination conclave, his first since he was appointed governor of the Littoral last March.

“The transportation of persons by tricycles is not yet authorized in Cameroon.  They are meant for carrying cargo and distributing goods around town but are being transformed into township taxis and you can see them carrying 7, 8 and up to 10 passengers,” he said.

He warned that as from July 1, any tricycles caught transporting people anywhere across the Littoral region will be seized and impounded.  Elsewhere, garages and other workshops readapting the three-wheeled vehicles will be simply shut down, he added.

“It’s not only a form of disloyal competition, but a dangerous means of transport for our citizens.  And so for the dignity of Cameroonians, we think that this means of transport, which adds to the disorder already widespread in our streets cannot be tolerated,” Governor Assomo declared.

According to him, suggestions are being made to the government to prohibit the importation and sales of tricycles across the country.  “We cannot be struggling to regulate the already very chaotic motorbike taxi sector and allow tricycles to invade our towns and cities because it will only lead to total anarchy,” he added.

The announced clampdown on tricycles came a day to the expiration, June 12 of a deadline for motorbike taxis in Douala to comply with a 2008 decree signed by the prime minister to regulate the sector.  Apart from obtaining personal identification and requisite papers for their bikes, the riders will be banned circulation in various Douala vicinities including the high-class Bonapriso, Bali and Koumassi neighborhoods.  That adds to a standing circulation ban in the administrative seat, Bonanjo.

Meantime, sustained agitation and threats of protests by the usually volatile riders as the deadline approached forced the authorities to u-turn on a decision to include the commercial center, Akwa in the list of restricted parts of the city.  The planned impounding of bikes without requisite documents has also been shelved after it emerged at the end of May that less than 7,000 of the estimated 70,000 riders had still not obtained identification.

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