Is it safe to travel in Cameroon? Some safety tips

Like most countries in West Africa, Cameroon's road networks, both paved and unpaved, are poorly maintained, poorly lit and unsafe at all times of the year. During the rainy season, many roads are barely passable even with four-wheel-drive vehicles

Road hazards and laws

There are few road and traffic signs; speed limits are neither posted nor enforced and buses and logging trucks travel at excessive speed creating a constant threat to other road traffic.

Other common road hazards include (but are not limited to):

  • Poorly-maintained vehicles (no lights, brake lights or hazard lights)
  • Unskilled, aggressive and intoxicated drivers
  • A total disregard to all road rules by all drivers
  • Livestock and pedestrians on roads, especially at night.

Local law states that vehicles involved in an accident should not be moved until the police arrive and a police report can be made. However, if an accident results in injury, be aware that a "village justice" mentality may develop. If an angry crowd forms, drive directly to your Embassy or another location where you can receive assistance.

(Rural roads in the wet are all but impassable.)

Bandits and bribes

Bandit attacks and car accidents are most common outside major towns, especially in the regions bordering Chad and the Central African Republic, but occur in all areas of the country.

Armed bandits have erected road barricades on major routes that link rural towns to provincial headquarters, and have taken as many as 100 cars in a single attack. To curb banditry, security personnel may request persons to show their passport, residence card, driver's license, and/or vehicle registration at random checkpoints. Certified copies of these important documents should be kept in a secure location separate from the originals.

(Always carry identification papers.)

Security personnel have been known to ask for bribes but normally allow expatriate travellers to continue after delaying them for a period of time

Visitors who are not in possession of a valid passport and a visa may experience difficulties at police roadblocks or other security checkpoints. It is not uncommon for a uniformed member of the security forces to stop motorists on the pretext of a minor or non-existent violation of vehicle regulations in order to extort small bribes.

You are encouraged not to pay bribes, and to request that police officers provide a citation to be paid at the local court.

Getting out

Overland travel out of Cameroon can be difficult. Travel by road north of Maroua is dangerous because of carjackers.?Gendarmerie (rural police) detachments are posted along the road between Maroua and the Chadian border.

Travellers on roads near the borders with the Central African Republic and Chad should ensure that they have adequate vehicle fuel, cooking fuel, food, and water for several days, as well as a reliable means of communication, such as a satellite or cell phone, or radio.?

Two separate train accidents occurred in Yaound? in August 2009, which resulted in twelve deaths and over three hundred people injured. While some parts of the Cameroonian railroads are being overhauled, much of the track and many of the trains remain in poor condition.

Piracy off the coast remains a problem - if you are caught in such an attack, you should comply immediately with any demands made by the aggressors and avoid any action that could be interpreted as an attempt to escape.

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2 Comments

  • Victor Vance said

    Wow, I was thinking of trying to make a vacation to Cameroon but this looks a little too formidable for me. Thanks for the pertinent information.

  • Monika Joss said

    Hopefully World Nomads can update this information! Travel regulations change a lot in this part of the world!

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