By Gifty Arthur
Authorities of the University of Ghana-Legon, have hurriedly written to government saying, the nation’s premiere university does not belong to the State, appearing recalcitrant over concerns raised by parents, students, members and Government official that it should reverse its decision to block its roads to motorists.
The university, which has been accused of operating as though it was a republic on its own, last Wednesday told Government that “University of Ghana is taking steps to enforce already existing restrictions in the use of its roads as public thoroughfare. It is important to note that
University of Ghana has always been and remains private property even though it is publicly owned”.
This was in response to a letter sent to the Chairman of University of Ghana Council, Justice Dr. Samuel Kofi Date-Baah by the Ministry of Education, to explain why it blocked its roads to the public, leading to a very chaotic scenes, traffic jam and debates in Parliament since Monday.
Justice Dr. Date-Baah, who is appointed by Government, blamed the chaotic situation recorded on Monday, on angry parents and the media, who he said refused to hear their explanations.
“It needs to be pointed out that the chaos at the Link Gate was fuelled to a very large extent by widespread misinformation and misrepresentation from the Press”, it stated in the document intercepted by The Herald.
The retired Supreme Court Justice’s letter added that “the misinformation was fed to the wider population designed to cause disaffection towards the University and its Management. This was reflected by the fact that efforts by University PR personnel and members of the community to correct misrepresentations went largely unheeded by sections of the Press”.
It is unclear what Government’s next line of action is on this matter.
The university is located in the middle of several suburbs, namely; Okponglo, Madina, Haatso and others. Its roads connect to highways and major residential areas such as Kwabenya, Agbogba, West Lands, Achimota, East Legon, La-Bawalashie, Adjiriganor, Adenta, Aburi and Dodowa and even Koforidua in the Eastern Region.
This means the least of traffic incidence in the university, causes a huge traffic jam inconveniencing both private and commercial drivers, as well as passengers from all the areas.
Indeed, it has been noticed that congregations of the university, each year, witnesses chaotic traffic situations stretching as far as Madina and beyond.
The Ministry of Education, had ordered the University to furnish it with the necessary explanation latest, today Friday, 21, 2014, but the University’s Council Chairman, swiftly responded on Wednesday giving various accounts and history leading to the infamous directive by Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, to close the various roads.
In the statement, the university as usual kept shifting goalposts claiming that it had to introduce the unpopular measure, because of the many discomforts it had to suffer mainly because the roads were opened to the public in the past years.
According to the report, on a daily basis, an average of 16,000 vehicles which have no business whatsoever in the University, plied the roads claiming those vehicles showed extremely little regard for traffic rules on campus.
“The current use of Legon roads as a public thoroughfare, generates significant congestion and anxiety among the mainly pedestrian population.
“An average of 16,000 vehicles drives through the campus everyday with no business on the campus. Commercial vehicles passing through the campus show extremely little regard for traffic regulations and for the safety of persons.
“Drivers on the newly constructed Annie Jiagge Road Extension often drive at top speed, thereby endangering the lives of our students and staff”.
It continued that the implication of this phenomenon over the years has denied students and all concerned the serene atmosphere for serious academic work. “The situation does not promote the serenity required for serious academic work. It is a danger to life and property on the campus”.
Last month, the University introduced a policy to collect tolls from motorists using its re-constructed road, it said it took that decision because, it needed to service a loan facility of GHC 8 million from HFC bank to reconstruct its roads.
After causing disaffection amongst the public and other interest groups resulting in a court action by some students of the University, government intervened and promised to pay the said amount involved and so later on, the University suspended the tolls.
However, weeks on, the University popped up once again after re-strategizing and announced that it was going to restrict members of the public , whose taxes is being used to finance the University, from it premises and asked that anyone interested in conducting any business on its environs acquires a sticker at a cost of GHc400.
The statement said, the quest by the public to use their roads rose to the highest level after the Ministry of Roads and Highways and Department of Urban Roads approached the University to allow general access to the University’s major roads on a temporary basis as at the time it was constructing the Madina-Accra road, but regretted that after the road had been completed, their roads are still being used by the public.
All including Members of Parliament (MPs), who reviewed the University’s act in 2010 were denied access, Military and Police officers were not left out either.
The directive was met with fierce resistance from members of the public, especially parents who have their wards at the University’s basic school.
The parents, who got stranded at the GIMPA entrance of the University, also blocked the road with their vehicles refusing even those who had stickers. It was following this, that the Ministry wrote to the University last Tuesday and asked for a report clarifying the issue.