Central African Republic’s main trading route, the road linking Cameroon to Bangui, is deserted after rebel forces launched a series of attacks last month. The disruption means hundreds of trucks are stuck waiting to move and translates into shortages for consumers.
Prices for basic foodstuffs like onions have tripled in the capital’s biggest food market. Air transport is costly, but remains the only solution as the disruption continues.
The government has pledged to provide army escorts for lorries starting Tuesday.
Commercial traffic on the road between Cameroon’s port city of Douala to the Central African Republic (CAR)’s capital Bangui resumed on Tuesday.
The decision came after a meeting on Monday between CAR government officials and the UN peacekeeping mission which agreed to accompany convoys transporting goods from Cameroon into the war-torn country.
“In agreement with MINUSCA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic], traffic will resume on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. MINUSCA will ensure the protection of each convoy with air support,” CAR’s Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada announced late Monday.
Ngrebada also said they had decided to set up a crisis unit to specifically manage this issue which has had a huge impact on the Central African economy.
“An assessment of the situation will be made three days after the resumption of traffic,” he said.
The road between Douala and Bangui was closed last month following repeated rebel attacks at a border town.
Several UN peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Burundi, and Cameroon have been killed and several others injured in separate rebel attacks in the war-torn country in recent weeks.
Some 30,000 people fled into neighboring Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Republic of Congo. The UN refugee agency said tens of thousands more have been displaced inside the country.
The situation in the CAR, a landlocked central African country, has been tense after the Constitutional Council rejected former President Francois Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections.