By Ndey Sowe
The University of The Gambia (UTG) Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Pierre Gomez, has informed Foroyaa that they have tabled a position paper before the governing council to buy buses for its students.
“We have asked for a supplementary of 12.6 million dalasi and council has approved that to buy two buses. This is internally generated, the process has started now and we should expect them in three months’ time because they are not available in the country,” he said in an interview on Monday, 27th September, 2021 at his office, Kanifing campus.
This came following a peaceful protest on Friday, 17th September, 2021 staged by the UTG Students Union to express their dissatisfaction with the intermittent strikes by lecturers of the University.
During the peaceful protest, the students identified dozens of demands which are directly affecting their academic lives, including the provision of buses for students amongst others.
“Now we have agreed and this semester, there are no online classes. Everything will be face to face. We will have challenges for venues that is why we are hiring more venues such as Ndow’s hall, Ebunjan Theater and GTMI for a whole semester. We are waiting for their response,” he said.
Professor Gomez said they are taking some of their Brikama classes to Faraba and the buses will be going from Brikama campus to Faraba.
With regards to laboratories demanded by the students, he said the ministry of petroleum through higher education ministry has provided lab equipment worth six million dalasi.
“They will be using them this semester,” he assured.
Professor Gomez also revealed that UTG has also procured lab equipment in addition to the labs worth six million to be placed at Faraba.
For the medical school, he said the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Turkey have also sponsored lab equipment that will arrive in three months’ time.
On the demand for the installation of a strong WiFi / Internet Connectivity across all campuses before lectures begin, Professor Gomez disclosed that the WiFi is existing already, but the problem they have is the distribution of the facility. He said the IT people have already placed the order for the equipment and promised to address the matter by the end of the week.
“We need to have a strong signal that is why we signed a contract with Gamtel worth more than a million for a fiber cable for all our campuses,” he said.
The Student Union also demanded that standard libraries should be established in all campuses, especially in Brikama campus.
Professor Gomez responded: “We have a library that is functional, and we told them effective 1st of October, 2021 all libraries now will operate up to 7pm. We are paying millions to get an E-library.”
On the reduction of students’ tuition fees, the vice chancellor said the government will respond to that.
He however added: “Half of the students here at the UTG are government sponsored. We have six thousand students and more than three thousand are government sponsored.”
The Student Union also demanded the UTG to provide studios for the journalism students. He said they have submitted a proposal for procurement and finance to work with the management to follow the GPPA prescribed rules and regulation, and when this is done, they will set the ‘ball rolling’.
When contacted for comment, Muhammed Y. Darboe, Head of Communications Unit UTG Student Union, said some of their demands have already been met by the management.
“We are committed to continuing the strike until at least over 90 percent of our demands will be met. We are ready to pursue this commitment to the highest order,” Darboe said.
He added that President Barrow promised to give two buses to the council, and at the time he was speaking to this medium, they are yet to receive a call from the State House for them to go and receive those buses.
“We are very appreciative of their swift response after we have done our protest. That to us is a concern, a responsibility that the management has taken,” he said.
He added that they will still continue their strike after the orientation and will still listen to the government on some demands and hope that the government addresses those demands as soon as possible.