Bamenda, Kumba anti-ghost town marches suffer major backlash
BY DANIELA NEBA NGUM and TALLA AGHAA
Anti-ghost town marches organized by pro-government forces in Bamenda and Kumba suffered major backlash as the turnouts were not only timid, but the populations responded with more severe ghost towns grounding social and economic activities.
The Bamenda march that took place on Monday, April 24 amidst the ongoing university games registered a very low turnout void of any major political figures of the region. One of the marchers, we learnt, was hurt.
On Tuesday April 12th, 2017 the Government Delegate to the Kumba City Council Victor Ngoh Nkele organized a march for peace aimed at saying no to ghost town in Kumba, no to violence and burning of schools, with a call on parents to send back their children to school, and above all with a clarion call on government to free the Anglophones who are being detained in Yaounde and the need for the restoration of internet in the two English speaking Regions of Cameroon.
The march, however, witnessed a major backlash when the outlawed Consortium also called for a ghost town on Monday, April 17, which coincidentally was supposed to mark the resumption of schools for the last term of the 2016/2017 academic year. On Monday April 17th, 2017 the population of Kumba woke up to the most effective ghost town ever as parents failed to send their children to schools despite the assured security. All the streets of Kumba could be compared only to a desert, shops and, banks, remained closed. The Kumba main market was wide open but no trader could be seen around. The Common wealth avenue where most commercial activities take place was equally deserted. People could be seen trekking to their various offices and duty post as Commercial bikes and taxis sparsely showed up.
It should be noted that the peace march organized by the Government Delegate also saw the presence of the Mayors of Kumba Urban constituency, Council workers, leaders of markets and transport syndicate, quarter heads and some politicians in the likes of Meme IA CPDM Section president Tabot Lawson, the CDC Board Chairman Chief Justice Benjamin Itoe Mutanga. They marched from the premises of the Kumba City Council through the CPDM party secretariat to Kumba Up Station to the Meme SDO’s office. The government delegate then handed their memo to the Meme boss Ntou’ou Ndong Chamberlin.
Addressing the SDO, the government delegate said: “This peace march is organized by my humble self in collaboration with other stakeholders in Kumba, we say no to ghost towns, no to violence and burning of schools, we want our children to go back to school, no to anything that will breach the peace that reign in Kumba, we are pleading once again for parents to send their children to school”. The SDO sounded elated and maintained that he will transmit the news to the powers that be. He hinted that he will continue to collaborate with stakeholders so that the current impasse rocking the city will be an issue of the past.
However this March for Peace has raised doubts in the minds of most city dwellers who wondered if this will be effective in Kumba. Some denizens who opted for anonymity asked this reporter if the so-called strike action and ghost towns was declared in Kumba that the Delegate wants a stop to it?
Others said that the turn out did not represent the population of Kumba. They added that even the distance covered from the Kumba City Council to the SDO’s Office did not create any awareness in the minds of city dwellers.
However, some shop owners The SUN spoke to said they are willing to open their stores on Mondays but are scared of losing their goods. They noted that their fellow traders in other markets whose stores were burnt have not received any assistance from the government for shunning calls for ghost town.
Most parents who still refused to send their children to school revealed that the last term which is just a month is not enough for their children to study the entire syllabus meant for academic year.