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‘Ghost Town’ Returns To Bamenda, Protestors Prepare To Upset Rally 

By Chris Mbunwe

img-20161207-wa0002Angry protestors in Bamenda, Northwest Region, are prepared to disrupt a rally organised by the CPDM to hold today Thursday, December 8.

“We shall see how they will hold that their nonsense here and go free. Even those hired from villages and far off Divisions to come and march here will not have it easy with us.

What they are coming to do here on Thursday is the highest provocation,” The Post overheard one man saying.

The rally organised by some CPDM Ministers, Senators, Parliamentarians, Directors of corporations, contractors, businessmen and others is aimed at pleading with teachers and lawyers to call off the on-going strike.

The raison d’etre for the rally, according to the CPDM elite, is that the children are going to lose a whole academic year when parents paid fees and bought books, while litigants continue to suffer in prisons because lawyers have boycotted court sessions.

According to the communiqué, the CDPM elite do not see the need for the strike to continue when dialogue is on with Government determined to resolve their grievances.

The announcement of the rally, which was read on CRTV and local radio stations and also posted on Social Media, seemed to stir the fury of the people of Bamenda who are supportive of the on-going all Anglophone Lawyers’, Teachers’, Transporters’ and Traders’ strike action.

The rally programmed for 1:00pm at the Bamenda Commercial Avenue grandstand, would be holding in a ghost town-like atmosphere just like in the 90s.

As your reporter moved from one end of the town to another, especially where people were whining away time drinking beer, and local brews such as ‘mbuh, shaa or quacha,’ the CPDM rally was at the centre of every discussion.

The discontented population intimated that it was bracing up to disrupt the rally, using all means at its disposal.

Meanwhile, for those the elite claim are preaching outright independence or federation, Cameroon is one and indivisible, period.

‘Ghost Town’

This week, anti-riot police dispersed demonstrators with huge doses of tear gas and rubber bullets not live ammunition as was the case two weeks ago.

For three days running, transporters grounded their buses. Chemicals spread from police water cannons at Sonac Street, Food Market, City Chemist, Rendezvous, Mile 2 Junction and Foncha Street have been causing health hazards because the toxic gases make breading difficult.

Slowly and surely, the 1990s ghost town effect has returned to Bamenda.

Troops have been engaged in running battles with protestors mounting road blocks here and there.
The soldiers have been busy clearing the several barricades mounted on the road by irate youths fighting black legs in the on-going strike.

Banks, markets, credit unions, shops along Commercial Avenue, at Nkwen Ntarinkon and Mile Four markets remain closed with their owners watching from a distance.

Women now buy food items as early as 5:00am up to about 9:00 am from the roadsides because trouble starts as from 11:00am when either striking taxi drivers and motorcycle taxi riders start preventing others from working by blocking the roads and pulling passengers out of the taxis.

Prices of basic food items have increased. In extreme cases, unscrupulous faceless persons have taken advantage and are extorting money from individuals at every road block.

Anti-Tear Gas Gadgets Business Booms

As tear gas shooting has become the order of the day so has the number of anti-tear gas gadgets increased.

Some young boys have ferried into Bamenda oiled masks that prevent tear gas from penetrating through.
The masks come with a green lotion, which after application is tied around the nose and mouth to prevent suffocation from the toxic tear gas.

When this product arrived from a neighbouring country it was sold thrice the amount at FCFA 300.

These days, the prices have dropped to FCFA 150 and 100, depending where tear gas is less intense.

Pregnant women, adults and youngsters are buying the gadgets everywhere.
Married Men Forced To Return Home Early

The ghost town might be a nightmare for businesses, but not for some families for which it is a blessing in disguise.

These days, due to an undeclared state of emergency, most married men in Bamenda are forced to return home as early as 6:00 pm; earlier than usual.

A man, who preferred to be called only as Cho, told The Post that he now goes home too early against his will.

“It is difficult to sit and share a drink with friends except on Sundays. Even as I start on one drink or two these fellows with long guns and tear gas troop in, ordering the bar attendant to close.

Each time I arrive home early, my nagging wife and children are always ready to pick up a quarrel as they keep singing praises to the troops to be around for a while to push us away from off-licenses and bars,” Cho said.

Meanwhile, the beer business has slumped considerably as customers who used to drink long into the nights are now forced to retire early.

Prostitutes have also been cleared off the streets in Nkwen, especially T Junction Rendezvous and Hospital Roundabout.