The Ugly Side of Urban Transport

The absence of roads and mass transportation system as well as the fast growing population among others has rendered urban movement extremely difficult.

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The urban transport hurly-burly prevailing in the two main cities of Yaounde and Douala leaves no one indifferent. Even politicians who would like to intentionally paint black white have not been able to deny the fact. It takes two to tango from one corner of the city to the other. This is easy to observe and as nature would have it, all the other urban cities are fast taking after Yaounde and Douala.

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The commercial city of Douala is taking the lead in this unfortunate situation. People travelling to the South West Region who choose to penetrate the city are sure to spend not less than three hours switching from one taxi cab to the other, from mini buses to minibus ending up on risky motor-bikes. Inhabitants of the Bonaberi neighbourhood tell of the hurdles they go through to attain the city centre where they are obliged to leave their homes as early as 4 A.M in order to arrive at their job side on time.

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The story is no different in the capital city where city dwellers are forced to board old dilapidated taxi cabs, motor-bikes and ugly minibuses every day. The Government Delegate of the Yaounde City Council, Gilbert Tsimi Evouna in his presentation at the World Congress on Cities in Stuttgart, Germany a few years back, stated in very clear terms the reasons behind this disturbing situation. These his enumerated, include: the road network, parking lots, Highway Code and multiple modes of transport.

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In effect, the major part of the administrative and commercial activities is concentrated in the city centre, while the residential areas are mainly located in the peripheries. This alone greatly contributes to the daily go-slow in what has inevitably become a one-way traffic with virtually every worker moving towards the city centre in the morning and back to the residential quarters in the afternoon or evening.

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The situation is aggravated by the indiscipline and disrespectful behaviour of drivers especially taxi drivers who constitute the most important mode of transport. Even though the road signals are few, where they do exist; many cab drivers and to an extent private car owners willingly ignore them. The main issue may appear to be movement in the city, but from every indication, several other problems related to urban transport exist.

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The city council authorities have been working hard to instil discipline in city dwellers to ensure responsible parking; but have not succeeded in finding a lasting solution. The problem is much more acute during working hours where the number of vehicles generally surpasses the parking space. As such, vehicle owners are permanently at loggerhead with council workers. While this is happening, a serious accusing finger goes to the absence of mass transport system.

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The arrival of “Le Bus” rekindled hopes for Yaounde citizens but quickly died a natural death. The announcement of another bus system raises yet further hope and questions at the same time whether or not this is not another white elephant.

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