By Moma Sandrine
In Bamenda, chief town of the North West region of Cameroon, the labour day celebration was void of the usual colours that characterize the celebration. After the march pass exercise that lasted for less than an hour, those who successfully made it to the Bamenda Commercial Avenue grandstand that morning rushed back to their various destinations fearing the unknown.
Usually on labour days, feasting and merry making amongst workers is the order of the day like the cases of Douala, Yaounde and other regions in Cameroon that have not been hit by the crisis. However, Bamenda painted a completely different picture as there was the absence of economic activities in the town on this day. Earlier that morning some inhabitants of the town were woken up from sleep by the deafening sounds of gunshots. Only few courageous workers could brave the odds and make it to the field.
The prominent aspect of the march past was the presence of mainly workers of the public sector representing different delegations in the region. In some of the delegations, four, five or six persons could be seen marching; a small proportion compared to the number of staff that these delegations have. Only a handful of people marched under a private company. On the side of the media, only the state owned media was actively present during the march past exercise. Neither community radio stations/ privately owned media organs participated.
After the march past celebration, the secretary general at the governor’s office Lanyuy Harry Ngwanyi, representing the governor congratulated the workers who had answered present on May 1 “We seize this opportunity to congratulate all the workers who braved it to attend this occasion that they graced us with and we are looking forward to their resilience as we forge ahead in the process of nation building which is a collective venture especially at this trying moments. We are hoping that all workers of the north west region will join hands with the administration together with the forces of law and order to rekindle the normalcy, social justice, peace and harmony that this region has always known. So we hope that this labour day celebration will be a kick-starter for new and better things to come in the North West Region”.
The workers trade union leaders called on the government to look for ways to resolve the crisis plaguing the region “You can see from the turn out here, it has been purely government authorities marching. That is to tell you that the private sector is really hurt and that is why we made it very clear that government should review the situation going through the North West and make sure that peace comes back to this region because without peace there can be no descent work”.
The labour day celebration in Bamenda ended shortly after the march past, as no bar/restaurant (places that usually hosts workers) was open since inhabitants of the town were observing what has been known as “ghost town”.
Ghost town mars labour day celebration in Bamenda
By Moma Sandrine