Cameroon: Clandestine Road Transport - Govt Presents Strategies to Curb Phenomenon

Below is a press statement by the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary on December 5, 2018.

"Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen;

I wish you a warm welcome to this meeting during which we shall be discussing on Government's strategy against clandestine road transport in our country and I would like to thank you for responding so massively and quickly to my invitation. As you have noticed, I have the honour to welcome on this occasion, two of my eminent colleagues of the Government: The Minister of Territorial Administration, His Excellency Paul ATANGA NJI and the Minister of Transport, Jean Ernest MASSENA NGALLE BIBEHE. Your Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, welcome to the Ministry of Communication. Let me welcome Mrs KOA Evelyne, Coordinator of the Technical Secretariat of the National Committee for the Fight Against Clandestine Road Transport. Allow me, on behalf of the Government, to also welcome all State Experts, from the Technical Secretariat of the National Committee for the Fight Against Clandestine Road Transport, the Ministry of Territorial Administration, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Secretariat of State for Defence in charge of the National Gendarmerie and the General Delegation for National Security. I'm equally happy to acknowledge the presence of Trade Union officials who are incidentally statutory members of the National Committee for the Fight Against Clandestine Road Transport, be it transport by buses, taxis, taxi bikes, or heavy load carriers.

Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Known as "Clandos", "Opeps", "Make-Mazou" or "Kosovo", these vehicles, whose activity is clandestine road transport, are often in poor condition. In any case, they operate in violation of the regulations in force and operate in localities with difficult, low or, in some cases, no access by regular carriers. This mode of transport, which in many respects presents serious risks to the lives, health and safety of users, appeared during the economic crisis of the 1990s. Unfortunately, it has now become very alarming. As a matter of fact, not only because of the demographic boom, but also due to some deteriorated roads, transport companies' fleet have decreased substantially, the reby reducing the movement capabilities of people in towns as well as in the countryside, on board decent and appropriate vehicles. As a matter of fact, the growing gap between the supply and demand in means of transport has unfortunately fuelled the development of this mode of transport known as "clandestine transport!" The public authorities, based on official reports from the various investigations carried out in the field, have drawn up an alarming overview evidencing that road transport has become a kind of transport hydra, which does not comply with legal standards at all. Moreover, the actors of clandestine road transport develop their activities completely on the fringes of social and tax legislation, thus imposing an unfair competition on regular professionals of the road transport sector. Considering the seriousness of the situation, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, has instructed the National Committee for the Fight against Cladestine Road Transport, placed under the active chairmanship of the Secretary General of the Prime Minister's Office, to take all appropriate measures to register this activity. The Head of Government has thus prescribed the involvement of the Ministry of Communication and all the administrations dealing with road transport issues, particularly, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Territorial Administration, to conduct a wide official campaign to inform, educate, communicate and raise awareness of the public and societal dangers of the various aspects of illegal road transport. Reliable statistics indicate that 40 to 60% of the vehicles on our roads are involved in illegal transport activities. Let me recall here some elements related to the consequences of this situation with regard to road safety. First, in terms of statistics, it has been established that over the past eight years, 22,314 material and physical accidents have occurred on our roads, for a total of 8,669 deaths, many of which are victims of the "Clandos" or "Opeps". There is no doubt that the characteristics of these clandestine vehicles are to be blamed for this high proportion of accidents and deaths due to the increase in the number of such vehicles on our roads. Generally, these are vehicles wi thout license plates, for the most part. Their drivers often work without a driver's licence or other transport documents, without a transport licence or prior authorisation, etc. They use vehicles or motorcycles for personal use. They transport goods, and/or people, between cities without the required consignment note or waybill. In addition, these vehicles carry out their public transport activities outside the authorised area or route. This situation of permanent illegality is no longer acceptable. This is why the Prime Minister, Head of Government, has prescribed that the legal and regulatory provisions provided for in this area may be used to ensure sound and detailed regulation of road transport in relation to this scourge of illegality. With regard to the legal framework, let me remind that the road transport sub-sector in Cameroon is governed by Law No.2001/015 of 23 July 2001 and Decree No.2004/0607/PM of 17 March 2004 to lay down the conditions for the practise of the professions of road transporter and road transport auxiliary. This legal framework specifies, in particular, the conditions of access to the profession of motor carrier, as well as the offenses and penalties to which offenders are exposed. In addition, we should mention Order No. 120/CAB/PM of 13 November 2015, amended and supplemented by Order No. 049/CAB / PM of 09 May 2016 on the establishment, organization and functioning of the National Committee for the Fight Against Clandestine Road Transport in Cameroon, set up by the Prime Minister, Head of Government. The general mobilization launched today by the Government for the fight against clandestine road transport is aimed specifically at: - Involving and mobilizing the various stakeholders in achieving the objectives of this campaign; - Encouraging, by December 2020, at least 80% of the actors of the road transport sector, to comply with the regulations that govern the road transport sector in Cameroon - significantly reducing the number of accidents resulting from illegal road transport; - supporting the public authorities in preserving public order by cleaning up the road transport sector. The Government is usefully appealing to trade union leaders for the full involvement of their respective organizations in the successful, permanent and continuous sensitization of all their members. With regard to the administrations in charge of national taxation, the Government urges them to increase their presence and reach in the recovery of the various taxes applicable to the road transport sector. It is at the same time prescribed to officials of the administrations in charge of the quality of the vehicles able to move on Cameroon roads, to take their responsibilities, all their responsibilities, to circumscribe the evil, and to avoid that the vehicles that should normally be meant for scrapping be found on our roads. Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me to announce that the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA, has instructed the Government to complete the legal and institutional framework of the road transport sub-sector, as well as the optimal monitoring of the operations of this sector. In terms of action, it's particularly about: - preparing a draft law amending Law No. 2001/015 governing the professions of road transport and road transport auxiliaries; - drafting a decree instituting the wearing of identification badges by all drivers of taxis bikes and other vehicles used for commercial purposes; - drafting a decree laying down the conditions and modalities for the operation of three-wheelers for commercial purposes; - drafting a text for urban and peri-urban transport of more than 10 people per vehicle; - establishing a platform between the Ministry of Transport, and the trade union organizations of road hauliers and auxiliaries in Cameroon; - the permanent conduct of various awareness, information and control actions by joint and specialized teams on our main roads.

Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It goes without saying that the problem of the fight against illegal road transport is a social and multidimensional concern that should take into account public policies of the State, the protection of the interests of operators in good standing with the legal requirements and regulations, taking into account the imperative of an institutional response to a relevant social demand, as well as the sovereign duty of preserving the life of populations and public order.

Thank you for your kind attention".

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