Students of the University of Ghana are agitated over the possible privatization of some four halls of residence following the failure of University Management to pay a ¢43m loan facility contracted in 2008 for the construction of the halls.
The loan which has grown to ¢528m as of February 2019, was contracted to build four halls; Hilla Limann, Alexander Adum Kwapong, Elizabeth Frances Sey and the Jean Nelson Aka halls, to house about 7,000 students to ease the accommodation deficit on campus.
While management of the University continues to put in efforts to provide better conditions for students, the privatization of the four halls in question may be a big blow to students.
Students who spoke to #UniversNews say a sharp increment in the current GHS 1,345 as hall fees may force some of them to move out of the halls.
‘I think the government should try as much as possible to settle the debt so that the halls wouldn’t be privatized’ – Student 1.
‘I don’t think it’s a good idea. If there are any means by which the University can pay the money, it’s better they looked at that alternative, instead of allowing private people to come in’ – Student 2.
‘The privatization of the halls would render most of the people in the hostels leave the hostels and become non residents, which is not a good thing’, Student 3.
‘The problem we have at the Diaspora is very disheartening because if it becomes privatized, we [the students] would have to bear the burden; our parents would have to pay more, which is going to affect us’ – Student 4
‘This shouldn’t go against the students, but if this is going to be our burden, then it’s not a good thing’, Student 5.
Confirming the issues on the Campus Exclusive show, Ag. Dean of Students of the University, Prof. Godfred Bokpin revealed that government in 2009 promised to absorb the repayment of the loan after students agitated over management’s intention to charge commercial rates for rooms in those halls.
This promise was however not fulfilled.
He maintained that the amount due may not be cleared without the halls being privatized or at least the fees being gradually increased.
‘When the project was completed, management wanted to charge commercial rates in order to offset the loan because they were private funds, but students agitated and government through the then president, the Late Prof. J.E.A Mills promised to pay the loan.
That promise was however never fulfilled. Now the debt is on us and the banks are asking for us to privatize the halls so they recoup their funds’, he said.
In the face of all these developments, management has set up a sub-committee under the Governing Council to re-evaluate the loan facility and make recommendations while engaging the Banks on other viable alternatives.
University of Ghana in 2008 contracted a loan to a tune of GH¢43 million to construct four halls to close the deficit in residential spaces available to students.
The newly built halls provided accommodation for some 5000 students. The rent for halls was expected to be pegged at commercial prices.
This projection lasted for only a year and a half coming to an end in 2010 after student leaders mounted a resistance and appealed for the rent to be pegged above that of traditional halls and below those of the halls at the Northern sector of the campus (Ghana Hostels, T.F, Bani Hostels and Evandy).
Amidst the protests, the Government of Ghana intervened. Government’s commitment at the time was to offset the loans on behalf of the University.
The University over the years made no attempts to document the decision of Government nor to service the loan they had contracted. Following that, the consortium of banks filed a suit at the court of which the verdict went in its favor.
Story by: Manuel Koranteng