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Douala road congestion giving motorists headaches

APAnews | Driving in Douala is a real headache for motorists and pedestrians, stuck daily in endless traffic jams. This nightmare has been haunting people for a month, when the authorities have launched the asphalting for 45 billion CFA francs of an “entering” ramp in the east of the country’s second largest city.

This three-lane infrastructure will be another exit to Yaoundé, the capital, located 244km from Douala.

Compounded by the rains, the construction site of the ramp considerably slows down the movements of cars, pedestrians and goods inside Douala, whose main arteries are stuck in permanent gridlock.

The situation is such confusing that, as on resident says, “it takes three hours on the average to travel a distance of 10km.” Still complaining, he pointed to a line of vehicles advancing at a turtle’s pace on a road. A concert of horns punctuates the slow procession of vehicles, while motorists, tired of waiting on the line, sometimes take shortcuts, to win a few kilometers. “For more than two hours, we have been there.

Leaving downtown at 7 o’clock, we still cannot get out of the city, when it is already 10 o’clock. Three hours to travel 10km, is just unacceptable! The driver of a public transport bus says.

According to another motorist, it now takes seven hours, not four, to travel the 244-km road between Douala and Yaounde. The people of the districts of Yassa, Nkolmbong, Ngodi-Bakoko and Nyalla, on the outskirts of Douala, are confronted in the opposite direction, to the same problems when they have to go to their place of work located in the centre of the city. “I have decided to leave my home in Yassa at 5.30am, if I want to arrive at my office at the Port of Douala.

If I do not do this, I could not get there before 10am,” Emmanuel Bike explains. For this business executive, it is the only way to avoid the congestion that “exhausts and makes us arrive late and unproductive,” once in the office. A bit nostalgic, he recalls that before the site of the “entering,” road, he used to go out at 7am and travel the 15km to his office in 30 minutes.

After work, he will again face the same problem, says Rodrigue Anga, who is now used to returning home after 8pm. “When I leave the office at 5pm, it takes me more than three hours to get back home,” says Rodrigue. Previously, the journey would take less than an hour….

The most hopeless thing for Emmanuel, Rodrigue and other Douala inhabitants is that there are hardly any police officers to control the traffic and bring about order in the traffic jam. Faced with this situation, unruly drivers are having a great time and they fail to observe the basic rules of the Highway Code, and slow down the traffic.

But some volunteers often take the initiative to control the traffic. That’s what happened the other day, at a place called ‘Cogefar’ when faced with an indescribable chaos some volunteers managed to help out and the traffic on the lane that had been blocked for about half –hour started moving.

People are tired and angry over the poor state of the roads and they blame the leaders for their lack of vision and “the contempt displayed by them in the face of the sufferings of the populations”, especially during the rainy season, when most of the roads are generally impassable due to flooding.

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