(Business in Cameroon) - Today October 14, hundreds of vehicles blocked at the entrance of Douala (the economic capital) since yesterday can now resume their journey to Yaoundé (the political capital). Journeys to the opposite direction are also possible now despite the long queues (over almost two kilometers), sources on the spot claim.
"I left Yassa (ed. note: entrance to Douala) yesterday at 4 pm, and crossed the Edea tollgate (ed. note: a city some 45 minutes away from Douala) around 6 am this morning,” said an official who spent the whole night in his car at the entrance to Douala.
This resumption of transport activities between the two main cities of the country, after 24 hours of blockade is the result of the successful conclusion of negotiations that took place between public officials and the union of road transport workers the whole night of October 13 to 14.
On September 29, 2021, the said unions had sent a notice to the Ministry of Labor informing them of their plans to go on strike starting from October 13, 2021, if their demands were not met.
Of the 17 grievances listed, the most important is the absence of employment contracts, the non-existence of payslips, and social security coverage even though the contributions are deducted from their salaries. They also complained about the multiplication of police and road officials’ checks, overloads, the absence of driving schools specifically dedicated to heavy vehicle drivers, and the abusive treatments they are subjected to.
They obtained concessions about their grievances before allowing traffic to resume today but their strike seriously affected economic activity on October 13.
The road they blocked is part of the Douala-Ndjamena and Douala-Bangui corridors, through which over XAF350 billion of goods transit to the Central African Republic and Chad every year, according to Cameroonian customs. The strike not only affected those transits but also hindered intercity transports between Douala and Yaoundé because intercity travel agencies were unable to organize the ten or so trips scheduled daily between the two capitals.
The strike profited motor taxis parked at the entrance to Douala. Cashing in on the crisis, they hiked their prices. A woman who had to get off a bus at the entrance to Douala because of the endless jams said she had to pay XAF3,500 for a bike, to reach downtown Douala. She even had to share the bike with another passenger even though the amount she paid corresponds to the standard fees for a trip between Yaoundé and Douala.
According to credible sources, the situation also profited rail carrier Camrail and air carrier Camair Co that saw an increased inflow of clients.