Calm Protest Day

It was..one of "those" days yesterday. I got to work at the same time (06h30), started off with my same routine (coffee, vitamin, read a few blogs, check personal email, get to work). The rest of the office comes in at either 7h00, 7h15, or 8h00, depending on their contract, who they are, where they live (camp vs. in town).

Except, just before 7h00, we had a group of protestors lock all of the gates from the outside. (Just so everyone is clear - I was in ZERO danger). Which meant that anyone that had planned to arrive at work any later than 6h50 was locked out.

LUCKY FOR ME, I was at work early enough to get locked in.

There were three people in our office.

I called a co-worker who was driving through the depths of the bush to find a way in and somewhat lost. I called Louis he was able to find a back entrance. So the count in office went up to four.

But not before the truck ran over a local person's fishing net set-up, making the owner very angry (but less so after he was paid 30 000 MGA (~$15USD)).

Unfortunately (again), the back entrance was quickly discovered by the protestors and locked. The Gendarme (local military) was asked to help us remove the protestors and unlock the gates, but they refused.

The protestors/strikers were calm and there was essentially no chance of escalation to any situation otherwise - provided we respected that the locks shall remain. One um...creative individual thought of climbing the fence, but thankfully changed his mind.

What went on outside didn't effect me - except around 11h30 when I started to get hungry....

Luckily, expats are a creative bunch!!!
I had an apple in my purse. A co-worker (away on vacation but we had the key to her office!) had microwave popcorn.
Louis had a protein bar and I walked around to various managers' offices collecting desk candy. (You know desk candy? I admire those kind of people. They can have candy on their desk. And like, NOT eat it at one sitting. I am very much NOT a desk candy kind of person.) I think that covers all of the food groups?

[Side note: There is a construction camp that we could have driven to - inside the plant site - but I've been there once and would rather scrounge around random food.]

Work got a little boring though. I certainly don't have a lack of things to do, but it was sooooooooo quiet. And watching the protestors was sooooo distracting. And I got sooooo bored. And I had a camera.
And a pink hard hat! This is a real hard had. But no one will ever let me wear it on site because "it has to be white or blue". What. Ever.
Around 17h00, we got an SMS telling us we could leave, if we walked to a different gate. About five minutes' walk from my office.
Freedom!!!!!!!!!

Here is the road blockade. By this time the group had dwindled down to a hundred people or so. Again, very peaceful.
All in all it was a ten minute (maybe fifteen since I was dragging my feet) walk. (Again, we were in NO DANGER).

Here's my office and the gate I usually walk through. The picture is taken from the entrance gate to our camp (the yellow arrow). The gate remained locked.
By 19h00 or so we got another SMS informing us that the road was completely clear. Staff working at the camp were free to go home and it was business as usual.

This morning I was a little more cautious and decided to go to work at 7h00, just in case. I would prefer to be stuck at home, then stuck at work.  Right now there are a few people in the "road block" area, but they aren't blocking the road. Word on the street is that our people are talking to their people. Hm. That doesn't sound particularly comforting, so I brought some yogurt, extra fruit, and a few other things in case we're stuck here for lunch! At least I can't complain that life is boring here!

[Oh, and as far as what they were protesting/striking about - I don't know. There are various theories mulling about, none of which I can confirm. Again, I can't stress enough - that this is a calm and peaceful protest.]

Update @ 11h26 my time today (Wed):
Last night, at approximately 18:15 hrs,  with assistance from the Region and the Gendarmarie, the illegal blockade was removed and all locks removed on access gates.

This morning, everything is relatively quiet.  There are approximately 100 peaceful protestors near the plantsite entrance.  The Gendarmarie are on site to assist in maintaining peace and quiet. Throughout the day, there are a number of meetings ongoing working towards a peaceful resolution.

We will inform you of any changes as the day continues.

Update on Thursday
Looks like things are resolved. For now.

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