DOUALA, CAMEROON - Truck drivers in Cameroon are again refusing to transport food and humanitarian aid to the troubled Central African Republic. They say U.N. peacekeepers in the C.A.R. are not able to provide adequate security.
Driver Ibrahim Soule said that for two weeks now he has been waiting with his cargo for assurances from the truck drivers’ union.
He said he is not ready to go to C.A.R. because armed men have been attacking the trucks and the U.N. peacekeeping forces are apparently helpless.
In August, Cameroon and C.A.R. officials met in Yaounde to plead with truck drivers to resume transporting goods and humanitarian aid after the drivers complained that 18 of them had been killed. The drivers said they are constantly harassed in the C.A.R. on the corridor linking Bangui to Douala.
The C.A.R.’s transport minister, Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene, assured drivers that the U.N. mission in the country, known as MINUSCA, had agreed to protect them.
President of the drivers’ union El Hadj Oumarou said insecurity remains.
He said that within one month there have been reported two deaths, several vehicles destroyed, food and equipment seized and a few drivers held hostage by armed groups.
Cameroon's transport minister Mebe Ngo'o said the economies of both countries are suffering. He is worried about increased congestion at the Douala seaport.
He said it is a new challenge that has to be handled tactfully, and that he is very confident that Cameroon and C.A.R. officials will find solutions to the new challenges in the not too distant future.
The C.A.R.'s interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, cut short her stay in New York for the U.N. General assembly last September 30 as violence resumed in Bangui.
C.A.R depends on the Douala road transport corridor for 90 percent of imports and exports. All of the humanitarian aid and supplies for MINUSCA transit through Douala.