Monday, January 15, 2007

Bribery, corruption and Good Samaritans

Yesterday I went to Ekona with Marceline and Naomi to see her parents. She wanted to go and talk to them about something as they do not have a phone. Ekona is only a few miles from Buea, but the bad roads make it a 45 min journey.

When we have been before it has been the whole family so we hire a taxi to take us and wait. This time as it was only the 2 of us (an Naomi but she does not count) We went by taxi and bus. The bus got stopped at a road block on the way. We often have to go through road blocks and they check the drivers documents and sometimes check everyone on the bus has their ID card. We carry certified copies of our passports however my copy was in Joe's wallet, in his pocket at football. My original passport in in Yaounde getting the visa sorted out (hoping to hear about that today) so I took my driving licence. However the police decided they would not accept this. So we had to get off the bus and try to sort it out. We argued that my passport was in Yaounde but they would not have any of it. The bus continued on its way and we sat in a little hut by the road. They are just after money, it is not an official fine, I am not paying an authority for not having ID, it is purely for these guys pockets. Bribery and corruption. So Marceline said we would sit it out. She did not even have her ID on her and they did not care about that they just thought they could money from me as I am white.

We sat and sat a bit more Marceline said it is fine we just wait 'till they go home then they will let us free. 'What time do they go home I asked' about 5, well it was currently 2, I refused to wait there 4 hours for Naomi's sake. A bribe is usually 500 francs (50p) which is not much money but it is the principle. Marceline was determined to not pay but gave in when I said it was not fair on Naomi to keep her here that long. So Marceline went to pay up. As she was discussing it with the police who said the usual 500 francs was not enough. Then a car passed with 3 blokes about my age looking at me. I thought they may be friends from Joe's football club as they looked as if they were trying to get my attention. They pulled over and the driver came to talk to me asking what was happening so I explained. He went off to speak to the police and we were allowed to go. They were random blokes on their way home from a weekend in Douala. They then took us to Ekona and asked for no money.

I do not know if they knew the police man or paid the bride for me but certainly got it sorted pretty quick, all while Marceline was talking to another police man trying to pay the bribe! So there we were saved by a stranger. He then took us the rest of the way to Ekona. We chatted in the car he was telling me about visits to Italy and Germany, I told him I was here with my husband. After that he was not so chatty!!

So hopefully that will be the closet we come to paying a bribe, I do not fancy sitting in a police hut again. And thank you to Handsome the random stranger who picked us up, who by the way did not live up to his name.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Your stories of Cameroon will amaze many when you come home.

Worried Mother from Woodbridge!!