Number plate saga: North West car owners on a cliff

By Shey Godbless 

Car owners around the city of Bamenda have been expressing their frustration following decisions by separatist and government on the use of number plates in the city and North West region in general. 
Cameroon number plates 

Separatists fighting for a new country; Ambazonia with the North West as part of the territory had declared the use of the CEMAC number plates illegal in the region. Since their outing largely on social media as has been the case for over five years now, the CEMAC number plates started disappearing from cars as days went by. Testimonies by car owners with the CEMAC number plate of harassment by armed individuals are many. 

In a recent circular letter directed by North West Governor to senior divisional officers in relation to the obligationto to carry a CEMAC number plate, the region's chief administrator writes:
"It has been observed with indignation that more and more vehicles are circulating within the North West Region with illegal, anonymous or even fanciful licence plates which have nothing to do with the necessary identification of their vehicles, sometimes some of them are contented with licence plates that indicate only the chassis number for no obvious reason." 

 According to the Governor's office, the non usage of the official plates which concerns even administrators should end. 

"To put an end to this type of imbroglio and anarchy which has lasted for too long, all vehicles both administrative and private
circulating within the North West Region are recommended to imperatively have their respective and prescribed CEMAC plates.
Administrative Authorities in the strict and uncomplaisant implementation of these prescriptions should instruct Defense and Security Forces of their respective command units to carry out permanent control on all road axis upon reception of this circular letter to which I attach a lot of importance." The letter orders 
With this outing, many automobile users in the area say they are caught between the devil and the deep sea and cannot understand where to pay allegiance as separatist fighters are threatening any person plying the roads with such number plates. 

“I am not sure if I will survive in this town with the present trend of events as far as the number plate is concerned. You don’t just know what to do, when to change the number plate to the foreign number or what is commonly known as the chassis number. I am deeply afraid that my car can be burnt or confiscated by anybody.” a car user said 

“Let the Government ask the authorities to stop the war for things to return to normalcy. They should call a spade a spade and look for lasting solutions for this crisis for we are in real pain.”  another car user said
“I think it is not necessary for Government to take such drastic measures for the one population is suffering” a Taxi driver noted 

Unconfirmed reports by a taxi driver say some of their colleagues with CEMAC number plates on their vehicles, had the cars confiscated around Mulang another neighborhood of the city of Bamenda by suspected separatist fighters. 

On Saturday June 18th 2022, around the mile three Nkween neighborhood, vehicles could be seen forming very long queues as state forces tried to enforce the order of the Governor. Vehicles without the CEMAC number plates, paid heavily while some taxi owners have testified that a particular Gendarmerie post was equipped with officers on duty ready to have the plates screwed on the vehicles that were trying to disrespect the orders of the Governor. 
As the imbroglio continues, the passengers are left to consume the consequences. Many have resorted to giving to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser and to God what belongs to God, always driving along with two number plates and ready to change at the next control to suit who is at that particular post. 

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