By Amadou Manjang & Assan Bah
As the University of the Gambia moved to the Faraba Campus, students are faced with a transportation crisis resulting in dozens of them missing their classes because the allocated buses for students are not enough.
The buses that are currently transporting the students are always overcrowded and lack proper ventilation.
The Country’s highest public learning institution commonly called UTG, recently relocated from Brikama and Kanifing Campuses to Faraba Banta.
The university is promised to be allocated 15 buses but only seven are currently operating.
Three buses are allocated for students from Turntable to Brikama, and four buses from Westfield to Brikama route. There is no bus currently allocated for those coming from Kombo South.
Despite this, hundreds of students are stranded on the roadside as they watch the crowded buses leave them behind.
The buses from Westfield get full before reaching Tabokoto, and buses from Turntable are also full to capacity before reaching Coastal Road.
Therefore, students from Tabokoto to Brikama or from Yundum to Brikama are left behind resulting in them missing their classes.
Abubacarr Saidyhkan, a student at the university, is among the students who missed his eight o’clock class on Monday.
Saidyhkan, who lives in Busumbala, said he was at the roadside hours before the departure time of buses, but he couldn’t board any because they were full.
Saidyhkan added that he had missed his class because all the buses from Turntable were full before reaching him in Busumbala.
“This was one of the things we feared in moving to Faraba. The Minister and the UTG management should find solutions to these bus crises,” he said.
Saidyhkan added that an average student cannot afford to pay to and from Faraba because it is too expensive.
He said that he also has lectures today but he does not know whether he will be able to board the bus or not.
Bintou Bah, another student who used the bus service, yesterday said the transportation was very poor.
“The bus was overcrowded and I had to squeeze myself beside the driver because I had nowhere to stand,” she said.
She said she stood in the bus from the Sukuta Traffic Light to the Faraba Campus and passed many stranded students.
She added that the buses have poor ventilation because of the overcrowding in them.
Amie Sanyang, another student who also boarded the bus, said she saw a lot of stranded students on the roadside.
“The buses are full before they reach Tabotoka. The first one was full at Westfield and the Second one was full at the Buffer Zone,” she said
She believed that the buses in operation do not have the capacity to transport all the students going to Faraba.
Seedy Sowe, a political science student, said the struggles students faced yesterday at the Sukuta traffic lights cannot go unnoticed.
“It’s important to share this unfortunate experience with you, the media personnel,” he said.
He said he woke up at 5 a.m. with the expectation that he would have a bus to Faraba for his class at 8 a.m. only for him to miss the class.
“As I crossed the traffic lights to the picking point of the UTG buses around 6:20 am, I met a small number of students standing waiting for the buses, and within minutes this number of students increased rapidly,” she lamented.
He said it is frustrating to wait for the bus and end up not boarding it.
“Three buses passed us but were full to capacity,” he said
Kemo Konteh, the Students’ Union President, said buses were allocated to the UTG but said lots of students could not be transported.
“Over one thousand-seven hundred students were supposed to be on campus for the 8 O’clock classes. As a result, many students were left behind stranded.
He said he spoke with the Higher education Minister in the morning to look for ways to solve the problem.
“He [the Minister] contacted GTSC to look for emergency response in order to avert the reoccurrence of the situation,” he explained.
He said the arrangement needs a general revisiting and rearrangement as he said the transition is not easy.
“When people are transiting lots of things have to be on the ground. There are assurances from the Ministry. There is a general stakeholder engagement to revisit the entire plan, but the number allocated is very small,” he added.
He called on students to exercise patience as he said it is a transition and it always comes with challenges.
Reacting to the situation, the Ministry said the number of students did not commensurate with the number of buses that were provided.
The Higher Education Ministry, however, said the GTSC has been notified and is collecting information relating to the issue and promised that the issue will be resolved.
“The GTSC is doing their assessments and is ready to increase the number of buses at any given time,” it reveals.