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In Cameroon, faith supports a road safety campaign

September 10, 2012

YAOUNDE, Cameroon

An ecumenical group in Cameroon, Campus Crusade for Christ, has taken on an unusual cause ― increasing safety on the west African nation’s notoriously dangerous roads. Their campaign includes protests and advocacy.

In August, Campus Crusade organized a 200 km walk from Cameroon’s economic hub, Douala to the capital, Yaoundé.

Waving placards and chanting songs, thousands of youths who embarked on the grueling march said the march was meant to sensitize road users to the rising problem of road accidents on the country’s major highways.

“God’s people are too precious for their blood to be spilled on the road every day,” Mathias Motomo, Campus Crusade coordinator, told ENInews. The Crusade says it works to bring the Gospel to schools and university students.

“We stand against anything that is clearly against God’s will for his people. One of those things is untimely death, most of which are caused by road accidents,” Motomo said.

According to the director of road transport in the Ministry of Transport, Zacharias Ngoube, about 1,200 people die each year in road accidents. Between 2006 and 2008, there were more than 30,000 accidents in Cameroon.

“Most of these accidents could have been prevented,” Ngoube told ENInews. He said the causes of road accidents included speeding, vehicle overloading, disregard of highway laws, use of fake driving licenses and cars that are not roadworthy.

“We are campaigning against all these malpractices on our highways,” Motomo said.

Ngoube agreed that faith-based organizations could be instrumental in scaling down the high number of road accidents in Cameroon.

“Most of the malpractices on our highways are built in people’s minds. If religious authorities can appeal to the consciences of road users, then we may begin to get solutions to the problem,” he said. He explained that Minister of Transport Robert Nkili is working to build a broad coalition of stakeholders around the issue.

“The minister has been meeting with drivers, trade unionists in the sector, officials of driving schools, the civil society and NGOs to find workable solutions to the problem of road accidents,” he said. He said the ministry had not initially thought about faith-based groups as potential partners in the effort.

“The current action by the Campus Crusade for Christ has given us a new opening, and we hope this may perhaps, be the best option: to use faith in fighting against road accidents,” he said.

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