Friday, 11 April 2014

Use Of University Of Ghana Road

The University of Ghana has been making the news for a couple of weeks now, since the authorities there decided to recoup an investment they made in respect of putting the road on campus in good shape.

In doing so, the authorities started to collect tolls from motorists who decided to use the road on campus.

This decision did not go down well with the motoring public and at a point in time, national security operatives took an action to demolish  a structure at one of the entry points to Legon campus.

The defence of the National Security coordinator was that the structure was a toll booth under construction. This has since being refuted by the management of the University of Ghana. 

According to some reports, Legon said the structure was not a toll booth, but a gate. 

The issue of the University of Ghana taking steps to recover the amount invested in constructing the road on Campus is not a bad idea in itself. 

But what one finds difficult to understand was when the authorities said in clear terms that even when the government absorbed he loan facility, the collection of tolls will continue.
The authorities failed to convince the public why they need to continue  with the toll collection. 

This created the impression that  managers of the university  were just interested in generating revenue at all cost. 

No one can begrudge them if they need to get money for their operations. 

But is it only in the toll collection that the money could be realised? In the ensuing confusion on accessing Legon Campus, the authorities gave a notice to the effect that one  needed a University of Ghana sticker to enter the campus.
This is nothing new, as far as Legon campus is concerned. 

It is just fair that one regulates how people, especially motorists enter the campus.

It is also a step in the right direction, when one considers the fact that, the safety and security of the more than 20 thousand students are of utmost importance to the management of the University of Ghana. 

If this is the case,  any action taken in that regard must be supported. 

The position is that, if the University of Ghana  had given out well coordinated message out to the public that its action was in the interest of protecting life and property, the controversy could have been avoided.

Media inquiries to get the authorities of Legon to explain issues further on the tolling of the road were not honoured. As a result, different kinds of stories made the rounds in the media.

Even when the management was refuting the claim by National Security that the demolished structure was a gate, a simple media engagement to show the plan of the gate under construction could have made the  public know who was telling the truth.

The concern of those  using the Madina-Tetteh Quarshie Road is that the action of Legon authorities should not worsen the traffic situation.

What this controversy on the use of the Legon campus road has brought  to the fore is the lack of proper planning of our cities.

Most public institutions have suffered wanton encroachment, even to the extent of threatening the very existence of those institutions.

The University of Ghana, when established some 66 years ago, may have been far away from human settlements.

It was at a time that population may not have been an issue to the extent of seeing settlements developing literally encircling the University entirely.

It got to a point when people had to use the Legon campus as a thoroughfare to get to their homes.

With such settlements, city planners ought to have provided a number of alternative routes to reduce the dependence on the Legon campus road.

This, the city planners did not do. Even if they did at all, the haphazard manner  settlements sprung up around Legon, have made it difficult to provide alternative routes.

The unfortunate situation Legon finds itself now is to enforce its rules which might have been relaxed some years ago in the name of good neighbourliness.

The reality  is that the UG campus road, especially the entry from GIMPA has served the public for some considerable number of years, so any action to prevent its use especially to people who do not have any business at Legon, will not be taken leniently.

But if we expect  the university to live up to its mission of developing world class human resource, then any decision at providing the right atmosphere to achieve this, must be supported.

The officials of the Department of Urban Roads, planners and social scientists need to seriously engage themselves so that more alternative routes could be developed to avoid the Legon campus.

With the issue of traffic, it is not out of place to promote high occupancy vehicles to reduce the dependence on private vehicles  on Madina-Tetteh Quarshie road.

For the authorities of Legon, it is imperative to step up public information on its rules to help address the misconception that it is a public facility and for that matter anybody can just walk or drive in at will.

Good neighbourliness will mean that Legon authorities dialogue with the residents Association of settlement  closer to campus, so that, they can find a common ground to live peacefully.

While advocating that nothing is done to undermine the academic freedom of Legon, the authorities there also need to take their action in  cognisance of the reality on the ground,  having been hemmed in by new  settlements that have sprung up, a situation which may not augur well for quality academic work and safety of the thousand of students on campus. 

What this means is that constructive engagement with key stakeholders should be the order of the day. 

In this way, Legon may not be seen as being on a confrontational course with the public whose taxes are used to support the administration of the University of Ghana. 

The current hullabaloo on accessing  Legon should not cloud the good deeds that institution is doing in developing quality human resource. 

Anything that will compromise the development of that quality human resource must not be entertained.


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