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01.08.2006 Education

UCC students accuse UCC staff over exorbitant rents

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Cape Coast, July 31, GNA - Mr Peter Wadja, president of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), on Monday accused some members of staff of the University of colluding with private hostel operators and other property owners in the area to exploit students.

He alleged that some of the University staff had also put up houses in the communities and were charging exorbitant rents. Mr Wadja, who made the accusations at a press conference at Cape Coast, could however, did not name any of the officials involved. He also accused the UCC's Administration, Rent Control Board, community leaders such as chiefs and the Regional Coordinating Council of showing no concern, although the students had asked for their intervention.

He said some hostels with standard facilities, including those built by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, were charging between 4.2 million cedis and 6.7 million cedis per student for each academic year, while compound houses, which had very small rooms and no proper ventilation or basic amenities like bathrooms and toilets, charged between 1.5 and 3.5 million cedis, for a similar duration per student in a room shared by four people.

"This brings the total rent charged for each room in a compound house to between six and 14 million cedis per academic year," he held, adding that it the trend now was that house owners were renting out spaces for beds, rather than rooms.

He said the situation had become alarming, as the rooms are very congested, adding that many of the houses were poorly constructed and had become "death traps".

The SRC president explained that only about 5,700 of the UCC's student population of more than 16,000 had accommodation on the campus, leaving about 11,000 to their faith to face "unmerciful and hard-hearted landlords and ladies".

Mr Wadja said the accommodation problem facing students had been compounded by the fact that the Casely Hayford hall, one of the UCC's six halls, had been closed for renovation and that its 2,500 occupants would also have to look for alternative means of accommodation when the university re-opens in September.

He said work on two additional halls being constructed on campus by the government, had not yet been completed.

To help solve the accommodation situation, Mr Wadja said the SRC had secured a loan of 19.2 billion cedis from the Prudential Bank to build a hostel and that work on the project which is expected to be completed within two years, would start soon. He appealed to the students to bear with the SRC in its efforts to find solutions to the problem, and said a list of hostels and compound houses and the rents charged would be posted on all notice boards to guide them.

He called on the authorities of the universities to involve the student leadership in deliberations on issues pertaining to students. The SRC head cautioned that if the government and the university administration failed to do anything "proactive to alleviate the situation" in which they found themselves, they would not hesitate to embark on a "demonstration to demand a solution. When contacted about the accusations by the SRC, Mr Jeff Onyame, Senior Assistant Registrar in charge of public relations told the GNA that he was aware that some members of staff of the UCC had constructed houses and were renting them out in the surrounding communities, but could not tell if they were charging exorbitant rents.

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