Teachers’ Strike Sparks Flames in Bamenda

Tyres were set on fire across the entire city

Tyres were set on fire across the entire city

Calm is gradually returning to Bamenda after a tense day yesterday characterized by running battles between the police and youths on the streets, with police firing tear gas and live bullets in the air and the youths burning tires and barricading streets after streets.

 Early this morning heavily armed police officers were found on every major junction to preempt any more attacks and gathering of the population, another group went around town clearing the remaining obstacles.

The main markets in town also opened timidly, while taxis are slowly returning to the streets this morning. So far motorcycles remain the main mode of transportation though commuters are mostly trekking to work. The schools on their part remains shut down and several shops are adopting a wait and see approach to open up. Many banks and credit unions and money transfer agencies remained close though there are workers are in place waiting to open up.

Yesterday, from Mile IV Nkwen to Finance Junction, City Chemist Round About to Ntarikon, Meta Quarters to Travelers, youths blocked the streets almost every fifty Metres, rendering the deployment of troops very difficult, while both sides were engaged in a stone and teargas war. This continued for a most part of the day until when the police took a tactical retreat abandoning the streets of the town to the rampaging population who erected more barriers, blocking complete circulation of traffic and forcing all commuters to trek home.

some barricades carried information like this one at Sonac Street

some barricades carried information like this one at Sonac Street

Most streets in Bamenda were barricaded making the deployment of troops very difficult

Most streets in Bamenda were barricaded making the deployment of troops very difficult

When most of the population had retired home the police return late in the evening firing teargas at random and clearing the barricades one after the other on the major streets. They forced any pedestrian they could find to help clear the mess with them. Several travel agencies were grounded with thousands of travelers unable to travel.

Events yesterday were sparked by a group of youths that gathered at the Liberty Square (City Chemist Round About) to demand for better roads and later staged a walk to the City Council to demand answers from the Government Delegate about the poor state of the road in Town. Their leader had placed a coffin at the City Chemist Roundabout with a bible in hand where he said he came ready to die for their cause.

striking youths came with a coffin to bury the system they described at rotten

striking youths came with a coffin to bury the system they described at rotten

 striking youths came with a coffin to bury the system they described at rotten

At the City Council Premises they meet a heavy deployment of the police and gendarmerie and an Army helicopter that hover dangerous low over them. This however did no intimidate them. When their leader who had gone in to discussed with the City Council officials failed to return, they set ablaze a council grader. This resulted to the police firing tear gas to disperse them, this soon spread across town and later to nearby towns like Bambili.

Elsewhere, in Mbengwi, the police and Gendarmes where deployed at the Divisional Delegation of Education to preempt any strike around the delegation, later in the day, truck load of troops were dispatched to Bambui to battle rampaging strickers.

Monday November 21st was set aside by various Anglophone teachers trade union for a sit down strike to protest against French interference and domination in Anglo-Saxon education , a follow up to the Lawyers’ strike since October 11 decrying similar interference and domination in the common law system.

By Abongwa Fozo

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