"Overloading is dangerous! Better late than never". This is the slogan of a social media campaign launched, on Sunday, by the Ministry of Transports (Mintransports) targeting pupils and students, on the eve of the new academic year launched today, September 4. "By sharing this message as widely as possible, we are committed to fighting overloading," says Mintransports, which is stepping up initiatives to prevent road accidents.
The campaign poster published on the ministry's Facebook page shows seven people, including schoolchildren, riding on the same motorcycle. This bad practice has become the norm among motorcycle riders in Cameroon. Many of them take 5 or 6 people on the motorcycle, despite the ban on overloading. This means of transport is particularly popular with primary and secondary school pupils, who prefer riding motorcycles with several people to getting stuck in traffic jams and being late for school and getting punished.
This practice is risky since the drivers usually receive no training, hold no driving permit, don’t even bother following traffic rules, and are notorious for overspeeding, authorities denounce. All of those behaviors expose both drivers and passengers to accidents, serious injuries, or even death. In a 2018 report on road safety in Cameroon, the UN revealed that moto-taxi drivers "are the cause of many cases of road accidents, do not know or refuse to put road safety rules into practice." The Mintransports’ initiative thus aims to draw the attention of pupils and students to the need to avoid overloading, one of the causes of road accidents in Cameroon, especially at school start, considered one of the most accident-prone periods.
"It's a good initiative, even if we've got some complaints about the way the message is worded. But it's better to start than never because this is the first time the Ministry has deployed a digital campaign at the start of the school year, calling on the general public to help implement it. It's important because road safety concerns everyone. We support this message and encourage the Ministry to make these tools available to us so that we can put them up in public places and every corner of the country", said Martial Manfred Missimikim, Executive Director of the road safety NGO Securoute, contacted by SBBC.