Benskin Operators Want Compensation for Missing Impounded Bikes

They were stopped by security forces as they attempted to march to the Governor’s office

Several commercial motorbike riders (benskin) today took to the streets of Bamenda  in protest against the huge cost involved in legalizing their status, the disappearance of some bikes impounded by the gendarmes and  threats on their live and livelihood by some separatist fighters  if they comply with government instructions. They suspended all activities, obliging others not willing to join them to stay home. This cause long cue of commuters at several junctions in town as people tried to get to their respective work places and farms

After assembling at the city Chemist Round About, they staged a walk through Sonac Street, Veterinary junction, Miss Ngen Round About, the Finance Junction and the station hill before they were stopped on their track by the gendarmes and police half way between the C-bend and the Bamenda Ford. They explained that they wanted to present their grievances to the governor of the region Adolphe Lele Lafrique.

D.O Bamenda I Gilbert Gulai addressing the bike riders
some of the riders sat down to drive home their message

They were soon met by the D.O for Bamenda I, Gilbert Gulai. He advised them to always follow the right channel in presenting their problems to government. It would have been better to pass through any of the D.O, then the SDO before to the governor if they could not find a solution to their problem he added.  He attentively listened to their worries and asked four representatives to accompany him because such matter could not be resolved by a crowd.

The benskin riders complained that several of their bikes impounded by the gendarmes because they did not meet up with the city council requirement were missing. The amount needed to procure the necessary documents to be in order cost over 80,000 frs (driving license A, insurance, windscreen licence, parking fee and to paint their bikes yellow) and that they have received threats from separatist fighters that they will destroy their bikes and assault them if they paint their bikes yellow.

“This is my livelihood,  my family depends on me but I cannot work because my bike has been impounded” one of them complained bitterly in pidgin English. Another said even after acquiring some of the documents required, he went to the gendarmes but his bike could not be found. “This bike is barely a month old” he added.

Full details of the meeting with the SDO are still awaited but the benskin operators finally went home hoping to get a respond from the administration soon.

Territorial Administration Minister Paul Atanga Nji after a meeting with the representatives of the commercial bike trade union earlier last month gave March 17, 2020 as deadline to comply with administrative orders regulating the sector. Many security controls carried out over several days in many parts of town led to the seizure of hundred of bikes. These bikes instead of being taken to the council and kept for control and payment of fines, were rather taken to the gendarmerie legion Bamenda-Station where allegations  are emerging that the newer ones are missing.

By Abongwa Fozo