As Gunmen Hit Taxi Sector, Drivers Blame Mezam SDO's Overnight Ban On Motorbikes For Attacks

Taxi On Fire In Ntarinkon Bamenda 

By Raymond Dingana

Over the past few days, gunmen suspected to be separatist fighters have been targeting taxi drivers in Mezam Division, in Cameroon's North West Region. Taxi drivers say these incidents have been recurring since Mezam Senior Divisional Officer (SDO), Simon Emile Mooh signed a Prefectoral Order banning the circulation of motorbikes from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am until further notice.

The drivers believe the SDO's decision to restrict motorbikes has triggered these latest attacks on them, as rumors have been circulating that armed men have also imposed a ban on their own activities during the same hours.

On Tuesday, June 4th, 2024, eyewitnesses said gunmen dressed in civilian attire attacked Akondi, a taxi driver in the Ntarinkon neighborhood of Bamenda II Council area. His mouth was shattered, and the windscreen of his taxi was destroyed. It is unclear if he had passengers in his vehicle at the time of the attack, and what happened to them. After the beating, Akondi was left at the scene, bleeding profusely. He was later taken to the Regional Hospital in Bamenda, where he is receiving treatment.

The situation further deteriorated on Wednesday, June 5th. Around 1 pm at the Travelers' neighborhood, not far from Azeri New Church Junction where soldiers have a security post, gunmen were seen vandalizing taxis, especially those painted yellow. In the Ntarinkon neighborhood, towards the Nchoubuo Junction, a taxi was set ablaze around 6 pm. Witnesses say the driver was begging for mercy, but the gunmen ignored him and set the vehicle on fire.

One of the Attacked Taxis 

Taxi drivers have expressed fear and say these latest attacks on their sector have only added to the numerous challenges they have been grappling with, such as police and gendarme extortion, poor road conditions, and frequent trips to the garage.

"This one that we are being attacked for a crime we never committed, it's like i would have to relocate. Police and gendarmes are now using intimidation just to extort money from us. Bad roads are taking us to the garages on a daily basis. The challenges are enormous. If nothing is done and fast, then we are doomed," 

said Suh T., a taxi driver in Bamend.

The Prefectoral Order issued by the Mezam SDO on Monday May 27, 2024 was in response to a deadly attack on a leisure spot below the Maternity Gate of the Regional Hospital in Bamenda on May 25, 2024, which claimed the lives of two people, Ngwa Ambe Teddy, 23 years old,and Ngwa Emmanuel,35 years old. The SDO said it was a way to frustrate further attacks by armed men whom he stated used motorcycles to hit their targets. 11 critical cases were admitted, while 18 others with minor injuries were treated and discharged home, according to Dr Denis Nsame of the Regional Hospital.

Attacks on civilians have continued unabated, as the parties involved in the 7-year-plus Anglophone armed conflict are yet to reach a political solution. Many Cameroonians believe the conflict could be best addressed through dialogue rather than the acquisition of more weapons meant to destroy both lives, and properties.

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