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Cameroon Bus Strike Expected to Disrupt Africa Women's Cup of Nations


Africa's biggest women's soccer tournament, the Africa Women's Cup of Nations, is due to kick off Saturday in Cameroon. But fans may have trouble getting to the matches if bus drivers continue a strike that has seen them park their buses across major roads in the capital, bringing traffic to a complete halt. The drivers are pledging to disrupt the event if they are not paid back salary.

Thousands of cars were stuck early Wednesday on the streets of Cameroon's capital, Yaounde. One of the drivers was Atangana Ansleme, a father of five attempting to drop off his kids at school.

The civil servant says the traffic congestion is unprecedented.

He says he has been on this spot with his family for over one hour, forty five minutes and there are no signs traffic will start moving soon. He says such acts affects Cameroon's economy and gives the country a bad image and reputation. He says he does not think his children will be able to go to school soon, as the situation is disturbing.

Businessman Fouda Anatol parked his car on the side of the road and decided to walk.

He says he wants the government to know that he took one hour, 30 minutes to cover a distance of barely half a kilometer and that he, like other poor people, is suffering.

The congestion was caused by workers of the urban transport company Le Bus. They parked their buses on major junctions and went hiding for a greater portion of the morning.

Their trade union leader Amougou Ondoua says they are owed 20 months of salaries and other social benefits. He says they will not transport people during the Africa Women's Football Cup of Nations that begins on Saturday and will stop others from working if their money is not paid.

He says after a crisis meeting on Tuesday, they were informed that Cameroon's prime minister had ordered the minister of finance to pay their salary areas for 20 months and other social dues, but that a representative of the minister of finance said he could not pay the money because their company owed taxes and custom duties. He says they will interrupt the Africa Women's Cup of Nations tournament in Yaounde if all of their dues are not paid.

Forty-five of the 125 bus drivers were arrested. Public authorities in Yaounde refused to comment but state media said they were convening a crisis meeting.

In May, workers abandoned work after a tunnel at the main stadium for the tournament collapsed, leaving two people dead and several others injured.

The incident occurred after Cameroon's prime minister forced builders to speed up construction work, amid concerns that Cameroon might not be ready for the Cup.

Despite the challenges, the president of the Confederation of African Football, Issa Hayatou, says Cameroon is set for the games.

He says it is gong to be a beautiful event judging from the sports infrastructure and the many people watching the matches and that all will be crowned with the high level of participating teams. He says the government of Cameroon has done everything it takes to develop infrastructure and make the country ready for the continental event.

Originally scheduled from October 8 to 22, Cameroon asked for the tournament to be postponed to November 19 to December 3 due to weather conditions.

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