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Cameroon – Rail network: Camrail reports at least 20 accidents since the beginning of 2024

by Theophile
Le train Express de CAMRAIL au départ de Douala

Since the beginning of 2024, Camrail, the railway concessionaire in Cameroon, has recorded “at least 20” accidents on its network, according to Hélène-Michèle Ndougsa Mbang, head of the occupational safety and prevention department at the Africa Global Logistics (AGL) subsidiary.

These statements were made during an awareness campaign organized on June 28 in Yaoundé. She noted that this figure represents a slight decrease compared to the previous year, when “more than 20” accidents were reported on official level crossings, although she did not specify an exact figure. The Camrail manager stressed that the majority of these accidents are attributed to non-compliance with the Highway Code, particularly by motorcycle taxi drivers who represent “more than half” of the people involved in collisions with trains.

She also pointed out the existence of clandestine level crossings on the railway network as a contributing factor to the accidents. In 2023, Camrail recorded 139 official level crossings on its network, while the Ministry of Transport had recorded 217 crossings at the end of July 2022, including 90 clandestine crossings. As part of the 16th International Level Crossing Awareness Day, Camrail launched a rail safety awareness campaign across its network this Friday. In Yaoundé, one of the key awareness points was the level crossing at the general hospital in the Ngousso district. The campaign, under the slogan “Watch out for trains: life can change in a split second”, aimed to inform motorists and pedestrians about the behavior to adopt when approaching level crossings, in particular through the distribution of flyers, with a particular focus on motorcycle taxi drivers.

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Martial Manfred Missimikim, executive director of the road safety NGO Securoute, a partner of Camrail, detailed the safety recommendations. “This involves slowing down when approaching a level crossing, stopping at a flashing red light or at the “Stop” sign, crossing with caution and only proceeding if you are sure you can cross while clearing the railway gauge,” he said. He stressed the importance for motorcycle taxi drivers, who are often poorly informed about the Highway Code, to strictly respect these rules near railway tracks. Alhadji Aboubakar, president of the Yaoundé 1st Motorcycle Taxi Association, confirmed that “90% of motorcycle taxi drivers have no knowledge of the Highway Code,” while ensuring that the awareness message was well received by the association’s members.

Despite strict legislation governing the crossing of railway tracks in Cameroon, accidents involving trains and people or vehicles remain frequent in the country. In 2022, Camrail reported recording 14 train collisions on official level crossings on the railway network, an increase compared to 2020 and 2021, when 3 and 13 collisions were recorded on conventional level crossings, respectively.

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