Oct 2016

This Friday, October 21, 2016, our country has experienced several transport tragedies with provisional official toll of tens of people killed and hundreds wounded at the time of drafting the statement.

Reportedly, the first drama, it seems, that has fortunately caused no loss of life, occurred Friday morning following the shutdown of the Douala – Yaoundé highway at Matomb. This highway, under heavy traffic for decades, is almost abandoned. It appears that  on  the Minister of Transport’s instructions to CAMRAIL , for which it is time that  parliament finally reviews  terms of its concession contract , eight additional cars were added to the only locomotive that ultimately left Yaoundé at about 11 hours instead of 10 hours, as originally planned. This is a train with a locomotive pulling sixteen cars instead of the usual eight, overloaded with many standing passengers, which derailed near the Eséka station around 12.30 PM.

Despite huge funds that the Civil protection Department of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation (MINATD) absorbs every year through unnecessary seminars, first aids only arrived on the scene at 16.30PM. They included, at that hour, only two ambulances, while hundreds of people were lying on the floor. To all the families so strongly bereaved, CRM extend its sincere condolences. Let the wounded and their loved ones get our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

The CRM urges health authorities and all the authorities responsible for disaster assistance to implement the same methods and the same diligence deployed in medical evacuations generally granted to the few privileged people of the regime in assisting the currently injured compatriots. Psychological assistance to survivors and  concerned families should not be  a luxury in this very difficult environment.

The sad and expensive comedy of so-called road safety agents   who abuse users every day as the road is potholed here and there have  never convinced Cameroonians of how serious the Government is  to care about their safety. Certainly speed, drunkenness or drug can lead to deadly accidents; but the quality of our road infrastructure, most of which totally dilapidated, is the leading cause of 4,000 deaths counted for the single year 2015. The fight against road crime must go hand in hand with the construction of quality infrastructure that take into account the development of the car fleet and population growth and free from corruption that is now sadly consubstantial to the political habits of those who govern us. The situation of roads and, by extension, of vehicles in the country is catastrophic and this is no secret. The  Yaoundé-Douala, Douala – Bafoussam, Bafoussam – Bamenda, Maroua – Kousseri roads and  the  Bertoua – Yaoundé path  etc…  have become true cemeteries that Government refuses to admit by hiding  behind  spectacular controls and corrupt so-called road safety teams.

Money collected from toll gates daily is clearly not affected to its official purpose of ensuring road maintenance.

Despite the capacity of the authorities to cross-check information, on Friday at 1 PM, the Minister of Transport, talking to Emmanuel Atangana on the air of “Tam-tam of the President of the Republic” (according to Charles Ndongo, general manager of CRTV ), dared to declare: “I would like to  formally and solemnly deny information circulating on social networks. There was no train derailment between Yaoundé and Douala today. I invite you to help us combat misinformation through social networks. “Mr. Atangana, obsequious propagandist, replied: “Excellency the Minister it will be done with pleasure.” Still during the radio newscast on “Tam-tam of the President of the Republic”, the same Minister of Transport explained that it is the false information circulating on social networks that caused, according to him, the derailment of the train exactly where announced earlier by opponents of the regime.

Given this rude attempt to manipulate public opinion by the Government, the scandalous disregard for the pain and suffering of the bereaved families, the CRM believes that the minister concerned has no other choice but to resign or be resigned at once. Similarly, decency demands that propagandists ATANGANA Emmanuel and Madeleine Soppi KOTTO, who laughed at the pain and suffering of Cameroonians during the 8PM  radio newscast, at least apologize to the bereaved families and to all the Cameroonian people.

This is too much! Cameroonians cannot finance for decades, by a so-called mandatory tax “CRTV audiovisual tax”, public service media that has specialised in misinforming the people and that much laugh at the tragedies striking them. We remember that this same CRTV announced without any shame whatsoever that six people killed by security forces in 1990 in Bamenda at the launch of an opposition political party  were victims of trampling. These criminal state lies must stop.

That same Friday, October 21, 2016, a Camair-Co flight, which was expected in Bafoussam airport, had some problems the extent and causes of which we do not yet know.

The Head of Government, who clearly did not measure the magnitude of the events, failed to immediately handle the situation so as to reassure the population by for example visiting by helicopter the scene to comfort disaster victims. Transport Minister did not see fit to move himself while the Delegate General for National Security sent a service inspector. The Government has left the Governor of the Littoral to manage the tragedy from Douala. The crisis committee was finally put in place very late in the evening. A helicopter flew over the place without providing any assistance to victims. Helicopters from which young people were shot dead in February 2008, when they opposed the constitutional amendment for the sole purpose of serving the interests of Mr. Paul Biya, have not been ordered to take off and fly swiftly to their assistance.

All these events occur as Cameroonians have no information about the whereabouts of the President of the Republic, Head of State, who had just returned to Cameroon after a “short private stay in Europe,” left the country again in early September 2016 for the UN session in New York, and has not returned since then, while all the other heads of state who attended the same session returned to their respective countries over a month ago.

Given the seriousness of the situation, CRM asks the president of the Republic to fly home in the shortest time possible, failing which CRM calls on Parliament to meet in emergency to record the vacancy and implement relevant provisions of the Constitution.  Cameroon can no longer accept that the elected president carries out his high executive functions from abroad, through invisible people – and therefore politically irresponsible – using interposed and/or real or fictitious instructions.

CRM is calling for an investigation into the exact circumstances of the tragedy of Eseka, its management by specialized services, including the Department of Civil Protection, medical attention to survivors in hospitals and Management of tolls money  and road funds.

CRM asks that conditions of the signing of the CAMRAIL concession and its implementation be discussed in Parliament.

Once again, CRM presents its sincere condolences to families of the deceased; and to the injured people we wish speedy recovery. CRM recommends a lot of courage to their families and address our encouragements to rescue workers still in action to save lives.

The communication service,
Yaounde,  22 October 2016.