Old Habits Dying Hard [opinion]

In spite of several efforts by the Ministry of Transport, many motorists are still to comply.

The Ministry of Transport, under the leadership of Prof. Robert Nkili, has in recent years embarked on a number of reforms to make life better for motorists, passengers and vehicle owners. Each reform was accompanied by a media campaign, at times with the Minister touring the country to better make his point clearer by having direct interaction with various stakeholders. In spite of all these efforts, the impact of these reforms is still to be truly felt.

Though the procedure for acquiring driving licences has undergone transformation, with the former format now being gradually replaced by much smaller, portable driving licences, some motorists allege that the procedure is rather long and cumbersome. A Yaounde-based journalist says he applied for the replacement of his old format driving licence at the Centre Regional Delegation of Transport in Mvog-Mbi, Yaounde, in March 2014, but is yet to get the computerised new version, almost a year after. Each time he goes there, they tell him the document is not yet ready. In its stead, like others who have also applied for the same document, he uses a sheet of paper from the Transport Delegation acknowledging that his licence is being processed.

Because of such delays, some motorists are said to possess fake versions of such acknowledgment forms, even though they never even applied for the replacement of their old driving licences! This is said to be in collusion with some transport officials. With such a situation, it is difficult for policemen and gendarmes checking particulars to know who has a genuine computerised licence or has applied for it. Even though a few hundred new licences lie uncollected at the Yaounde Transport office, many drivers say theirs is still to be out.

Similarly, in spite of recent efforts to ensure that only road-worthy vehicles ply the road, it is still common today to find cars that can at best be described as “moving carcasses” on Yaounde streets. An official in the Ministry of Transport in Yaounde explained that road worthiness centres are private, commercial entities where anything was possible. On the other hand, efforts to streamline operations of driving schools are yet to bear tangible fruit. A source in the Ministry of Transport told Cameroon Tribune on January 16, 2015 that the problem has been with the school owners themselves many of whom have been operating illegally. She however warned that after February 28, 2015, all illegal schools will be shut down.

Concerning taxi drivers’ identification badges, the same transport official explained that the private-led initiative was bogged down in wrangles between different road transport trade unions. Last week, the different parties reached agreement and came to inform the Minister of Transport of their decision. The process is expected to henceforth go on smoothly as each trade union has the right to issue computerised badges to members.

Perhaps, the sticking point in the ministerial reforms is the state of bus stations. In spite of repeated warnings and inspection trips by Prof. Robert Nkili and his officials, many bus stations are yet to provide the conditions necessary for drivers’ and passengers’ comfort such as sleeping and waiting rooms and adequate toilet facilities. While the situation persists, the ministry explains that a survey of bus stations in the country is still underway. Our source however promised that as soon as it is over, sanctions will be taken against bus company owners who have not put in place the right conditions.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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