Friday, March 7, 2014

DR Congo: Goma- " Welcome back to the circus ! "

Charly Kasereka blogs. The translation is via Google Translate and I have attempted to clean it up. Any mistakes are mine alone. As usual I will not make comments on Charly's blog, but I will add now, that given all that Goma has been through it seems a shame that as normality returns that it is taxes that are to the forefront. Goma has indeed rejoined the circus.   

Goma; The hunt for unidentified bikers begins

 Traffic Police block the passage to Instigo Roundabout Goma. Photo Charly Kasereka

This week,  the mayor of Goma instructed the police to hunt for unregistered motorcycle taxi drivers. Major arteries are blocked by police checkpoints and fingers are on the trigger!

In the last seven days more than four hundred unregistered motorcycles have been confiscated. The seized motorcycles are surrendered to the Goma Prosecutor's Office.

All motorcycles and their drivers must be registered, it will allow authorities to discover the real 
motorcycle taxi drivers and fake taxi bikers in this city. Registration and a license number, with the number costing three thousand Congolese franc. As of March 1, motorcycle's without licence number are prohibited on the roads in Goma.

It is with these words that the Mayor Nasson Kubuya Ndoole addressed the Gomatraciens via the local press. This city has had an intolerable crime rate, police reported several cases of banditry that have been facilitated by these vehicles. 
Day and night bandits operate motorcycle's to facilitate their escape. Several such cases have been repeatedly reported

To try to limit this crime, the provincial security council has developed a number of strategies:

- Prohibition of night traffic from 18:30  to any motorcycles. This measure came into force in November 2012. 
( My link not Charly's )

-'' It was not really the cause of the problem.'' The solution has changed, it is now necessary to identify all Bikers with vests numbered on the back.
Registration and identification number cost three thousand francs Congolese, but that must be paid to retrieve the bike once seized by the police.

More than 1500 
motorcycle drivers are already registered, as bikers adhere to the identification process established on March 1 by the municipal authorities. Most of them wear helmets with a serial number and comply with formalities consistent with the road rules of Goma.                  

                                          Taximen at the Moto Roundabout Instigo Goma.  Photo Charly Kasereka

On Monday March 3, there were demonstrations of anger across hotspots of the city, organized by some of the affected motorcycle taxi drivers who did not agree with the actions of the Mayor, demanding he first rehabilitate urban roads. All the protesters were dispersed tear gas and batons.

These protesters also wanted to show their displeasure and disagreement with the municipality, the
 three thousand Congolese franc ( 3 Euros ) cost of registration is unreasonable for any rider and owner of a motorcycle. 

Of the more than ten thousand motorcycles Goma, only hundreds have complied with this decision. Indeed some have indicated to authorities that they will not pay another form of more tax while urban roads are in poor condition throughout the city. On the other hand, those who have complied report harassment and even killings by the police despite having purchased vests for Ten U.S. dollars.
They are beaten before their pockets are emptied by the police and military.


Some motorcyclists want their money repaid.
'' Others wonder, what is after this, will there be additional regulations of this kind to ask from us more money?''

'' Is that the city can not reduce the three thousand five hundred francs  for us ?

'' Is it really us bringing insecurity to the city?''  

In addition to all these questions, a provincial deputy, Gilbert Kalinda also wondered who should pay for the security of the city ? Especially for people who are just recovering from a long period of war in which they almost lost everything!

The other problem is that of finding a bike, movement in Goma has  become a battle. At any time of the day, I can see three to five people who are trying to commute, but there is only one bike in the taxi stand, discussions turns into the auction and it is the offer that is accepted.

Motorcycle traffic on the bikes that are available has reduced to five times less than normal.

Recording software, a first in the city administration

For this the Mayor is prepared. Software has been installed on the website of the city for preliminary registration and to update the motorcycle taxis status. 

In addition to the website the material used by police is locally made and 
purchased ​​to carry out the operation of road closures. Also on the road the traffic officers have weapons, '' Attention! Finger on the trigger!''

Goma has over Ten thousand motorcycles for transportation and population movement. There are also Buses taxis, but lack of roads and avenues make many neighborhoods impossible to access.


                           View of the road from the bridge at Independence Square in Goma photo Charly Kasereka

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