By Mua Patrick, December 5, 2016
Cameroon Journal, Bamenda – Streets were entirely empty Monday in Bamenda as aftershocks of the strike by Anglophone teachers and lawyers continue to rock the North West regional capital.
The atmosphere was reminiscent of what obtained in the 1990s during the infamous ghost town days. Shops and leisure spots remained shut down, with inhabitants of the town trekking long distances to their respective destinations.
Today, we gathered that traders and drivers in Bamenda began their own protest, raising a number of grievances.
As the strike began, drivers put their cars off the roads while traders did not show up in most markets across Bamenda. Some irate inhabitants later mounted road blocks at strategic areas in the city.
The Central Market as well as the other major markets of Nkwen, Ntarikon and the Food Market were simply closed down following calls from Traders’ Trade Unions.
In some areas of the town especially around the hospital roundabout and SONAC Street, there were clashes between anti-riot police and unarmed civilians. Several inhabitants on who police used water cannons could be seen fleeing for safety.
Majority of the civilians who clashed with the police, we gathered, were drivers who had defied a call from their trade union to boycott road activities.
Gunshots were heard around the hospital roundabout neighbourhood at about 1:30 pm, an unnamed source confirmed to our reporter today. Following the clashes, many civilians reportedly sustained injuries while others were arrested.
However, unlike last week where the protesters brandished placards and banners, today’s protest was less so. But even as the police shot into the air several times to disperse the protesters, witnesses said the crowd replied with broken bottles and sharp-edged stones.
Within some neighbourhoods such as ‘travellers’, protesters mounted barricades, rendering movement into and out of the vicinity impossible.
The traders who joined the lawyers/teachers’ strike action yesterday, The Cameroon Journal learnt, are amongst other things also demanding a drop in skyrocketing market tolls in markets across Bamenda especially at the main market at the Commercial Avenue. We gathered that they were also asking authorities of the Bamenda City Council to step down rents of market stalls which reportedly witnessed an increase months back.
The drivers in the commercial transport sector for their part, we were told, are protesting against exorbitant taxes imposed on them. They are also protesting against police and gendarme extortion as they ply the roads, a member of the drivers’ trade union told The Cameroon Journal.