Kumba(National Times)-Scores of cocoa truck drivers have refused from respecting administrative suggestions on Sunday, November 25 to ply the Kumba-Douala Road axis on ghost town day citing threats to life despite the presence of military escorts, The National Times has learnt.
The cocoa trucks had lined up at the Mabonji Security Checkpoint on the outskirts of Kumba, South West Region in wait of a military escort to ply the road. One of the set of such vehicles had been escorted on Friday.
Between Saturday and Sunday, misunderstanding is said to have broke out after the administration suggested that the vehicles will be escorted on Monday. Drivers and cocoa merchants are said to have rejected the call to work on Monday given the risk involved.
In the last two years and still counting, Monday’s across Cameroon’s restive North West and South West Regions are characterised by deserted streets, roads and markets. Everyone stays indoors owing to a separatist-imposed ghost town operation.
People have been kidnapped, businesses burnt while gunmen have killed others for disrespecting the ghost town operations. Knowledge of such is said to be what pushed the cocoa buyers and drivers to resist the proposal of driving along the said road on a Monday.
Cocoa exporters are said to have waited for the military escort van for hours to no avail. Several telephone calls were made. Later in the day, news of the Monday proposal dropped but the concerned protested.
While some later followed the security escort in the evening hours of Sunday, others stayed put to embark on the journey on Tuesday.
In response to repeated attack from gunmen and unknown individuals on cocoa trucks, the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO for Meme Chamberllin Ntou’ou Ndong signed an order, giving security forces the exclusive right to escort cocoa trucks. The order warned of punishment for anyone that goes against the editct. The order has been into force for weeks now.