23 August 2008
Blocked at Bouaké
Today I find myself once again in Korhogo after trying in vain last night to enter Bouaké. It would seem that the rebels in Bouaké are once again dissatisfied with the promised “payments” for laying down their arms and they have sealed off the city to all vehicles coming from either the north or the south.
Yesterday morning, after about two weeks on the road I was looking forward to returning home to my own bed and seeing the guys I had left in charge of things on the Bouaké campus. Angelika and our short term girls had left from Ferké direct to Bouaké with one vehicle and I took the second to pick- up our trailer and a few other items in Korhogo where I had to see several people before heading for Bouaké
By about 12h00 noon I was on the road. When I arrived in Katiola (50 km north of Bouaké) I received a message from Angelika saying that the roads in Bouaké were all blocked. They had made it to a friend's place on the northwest side of town and were waiting it out. Not being sure if I should proceed or not I stopped to greet the pastor Coulibaly Amegnan in Katiola. We talked for about two hours while we waited to hear from Angelika. She finally called to let me know that the roads were open and that the way was clear.
With this assurance I asked for the road and set off for Bouaké. Arriving in at the outskirts of Bouaké I realize that there was a problem. Having lived in this precarious country for several years it seems that many people have learned to not drive into what looks like a confused situation. I stopped well outside of town along with others to find out what the story was. Of course the stories were many and varied. Some said that the road was blocked because the rebels were demanding 5 million CFA (about $12.250) per soldier for laying down their arms and returning to civilian life. Now that is a lot of cash and I am sure that no one ever promised that much but when you have guns you can say anything you want!
As for us, that is to say, me along with hundreds of other travelers, we were blocked waiting for things to clear. After waiting about two hours the rumor began circulating that we might be there for the night. Incidentally, what had been promised was 255.000 CFA ($625) which is apparently unsatisfactory for a soldier with a gun.
With that in mind and the fact that I was carrying too much cash, I thought that either I had better try to sneak in through one of the back roads or return to Korhogo where I had work to do on the radio tower anyway. After one aborted attempt to avoid a rebel blockade I decided it smarter to return to Korhogo before it got too late. According to those within the city limits life was going normally. It was only at the sensitive roads that the traffic was stopped.
So it was that last night at about 20h00 I rolled back into Korhogo having knocked on our door at Bouaké without gaining entrance. According to the news reports this morning the road is still blocked, the rebels permitting passage to only those trucks with foreign plates. And so the saga continues as this country tries to find its way out of a war that has continued for too long and borne far too few benefits for its people.
Posted by Rod at 07:02