Highlights of the essay by Jean-Paul Brice Affana (Cameroon) who is one of the eight finalists of The World Bank Essay Competition 2009 .
Jean Paul is from Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon. According to him, one will be surprised to find the number of yellow taxis and motorbikes plying the streets of Yaoundé. Most of the taxi drivers use “Zoa-Zoa” fuel to run their taxis. “Zoa-Zoa” is adulterated petrol illegally supplied in Yaoundé. Its poisonous emissions are affecting the environment and the health of the people. There are about 18,000 taxis and motorbikes running in Yaoundé and most of the taxi drivers are unaware of the fact that the adulterated fuel that they are using not only spoils the engine of their vehicles but also poses a severe threat to the environment.
Jean Paul believes that ignorance of the impacts of human activities on the environment and the lack of awareness about climate change lead to such irresponsible actions by the citizens of Yaoundé.
His first proposal is the Green Taxis Campaign against Climate Change. Taxi drivers will be mobilized within trade-unions and associations, and will be trained on environmental issues, to educate them about the repercussions of their seemingly insignificant actions. This will include warning them against “Zoa-Zoa” consumption and encouraging “Green Taxis” in the city.
Second, he proposes a National Program of Education for use of Public Transport which will bring together all urban and inter-urban transporters of the country to make them aware of their responsibilities. They will also be provided information and messages to implement them.
Lastly, he proposes the 5 Million Short Message Service against Climate Change Program, where the government and the three mobile telephone operators present in Cameroon would join hands and set up a long-term program which will consist of sending tips for daily eco-citizenship called Green SMS, to all mobile phone users of the country. Operators can send it more often during occasions like World Environment Day, to create and increase awareness.
Jean Paul believes that in order to materialize his ideas, youth will have to team up with the government and other development agencies like the United Nations and even local sponsors, who will help to raise funds, provide promotional materials and organize training sessions for the taxi drivers of Yaoundé.