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UG Power Outages: The University Should Put In Measures To Curb Minor Issues Like Generator Malfunctions To Maintain Status Quo - SKO Writes

According to Nelson Mandela, "Education is the most powerful weapon or tool which you can use to change the world". It is therefore not in dispute that, education play a crucial role in the development of a country. University of Ghana, Legon has over the years been ranked as the best University in Ghana and even beyond. These academic achievements have not been attained on a silver platter. Different factors come together to make these achievements possible of which availability of electricity is one.

Students in Ghana and across the globe recently journeyed to their various campuses with joy after the long vacation. It was time to meet old friends and to make new ones . On Monday, the 23rd day of January 2023, the University of Ghana community suffered power cut from 3:00 pm to 9:35 pm. The power was not restored back after the blackout until 9:35 pm. Thus, close to six good hours.

This led to a halt on both  academic and administrative activities in some lecture halls and offices of the University. Whereas some lecturers cancelled their classes entirely, others have to manage and lecture by speaking on top of their voices. A typical example was the 5:30pm SOCI 221 class at the GCB Main Building. The committed Lecturer, Dr. Solomon K. Amoah had to raise his voice in order to reach out to his students because of the lights-out challenge. I believe that some lecturers also did lecture though there was no power available

Recently, there was a communique by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to the effect that some parts of Accra and its environs were going to suffer lights-out for some justified reasons of which University of Ghana, Legon campus was not exempted. Students were therefore in anticipation of such an exercise to occur. As expected, from 6:00pm to 9:30pm on monday evening - 23rd January, 2023, darkness began to overshadow the beautiful Legon campus.

To the outmost surprise of many students and myself was the fact that none of the traditional halls (Legon, Akuafo, Volta, Commonwealth, and Sarbah halls) were able to power their generator for use. Elizabeth Francis Sey Hall was the only hall at Diaspora that used their generator during that time. Meanwhile, students on yearly basis have been paying the generator levy of 100 Ghanaian cedis without any chance of escape. This is because, the generator fee is embedded in the residential fee. 

Since my four year stay in the Sarbah Hall from 2018 to 2022 as an undergraduate student, the generator for the hall had been constantly remained inoperational for no apparent or explicable reason(s). I believe that this situation has been the norm of other halls and hostels on campus.

This and many others are the things students ought to fight, protest, demonstrate, and speak against and not the nonessential protests. Students who were supposed to question hall managements about the inefficiency of the various generators were seen in a wild jubilation mood when the light came back around 9:35pm as if their favourite teams had scored.

It is high time that the University Management and the Students Representative Council (SRC) make sure that Hall Managements always use the generator levy for its manifest purpose(s) when the need arises. The constant inoperational of these generators in the various halls cannot continue to happen whiles students are always compelled to pay a levy of it every academic year.
As a country, we should not be experiencing avoidable lights-out in our quest to become a well industrialized nation but here we are. My problem here is not about when the light will go off but the deliberate failure of those in-charge to make use of these generators in times of complete blackout on campus. Up to date, I still cannot fathom the reason(s) behind the whole caboodle.

On that note, i will call on the Auditor General, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and all necessary concern institutions to carry out marathon investigation or audit the generator fees paid by students without any benefit from time immemorial.  It is the legal right of  students to know what these levies are used for. Nobody must be allowed to enrich him or herself at the expense of students.

If University of Ghana can continue to maintain or boast of being the best University in Ghana and beyond, then these are some of  the things Management need to tackle in order to maintain the status quo. What will the foreign students say of us after paying such exorbitant fees when they return to their various countries after such terrible experience? This is disparaging to the image of the entire university and same must be resolved as soon as possible. Can the University continue to compete with the other Universities worldwide when it does not desist from such a practice?. Certainly no !!!

The government, institutions, traditional rulers, advocacy groups, and student leaders should all put their hands together in order to curb this canker that has been going on in our various tertiary institutions across the county. This is a clarion call. A call to action. It is my humble prayer and hope that, Management will treat this situation with the outmost urgency it deserves. Thank you.

Source: Samuel K. Owusu

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