The Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, together with some members of Vice-Chancellors, Ghana, yesterday paid a fact-finding visit to the KNUST campus to ascertain the level of damages caused by students in the recent riots.
They were accompanied by some chiefs in the Ashanti Region, including the Bantamahene, Baffour Owusu Amankwatiah VI; Nana Boakye Ansah Debrah, the Asokore-Mamponghene, and Oheneba Nana Owusu Afriyie IV, the Apagyahene.
Vice-Chancellors, Ghana, which comprises vice-chancellors of all the public universities in the country, had earlier held a closed-door meeting with the Otumfuo to update him on issues that had taken place in the KNUST since the November 22 riots by the students.
The team first inspected the Central Administration Block where the main glass doors were shattered and a flat-screen television set also smashed.
They also visited the Republic Hall, parts of which was also vandalised in the riots.
Other areas inspected were the Transport Department, the Security Post and the office of the Dean of Students, where the team was again briefed on the incident.
Briefing the media later, a representative of Vice-Chancellors, Ghana, Prof. John Owusu Gyapong, expressed shock at the level of damage to properties by the students.
“We are actually shocked at the extent of damage. I believe that we had under-estimated the cost of damage, which runs into millions of Ghana cedis,” he said. Prof. Gyapong, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho, explained that the team was on a fact-finding mission.
According to him, the incident had afforded them the opportunity to pick up some lessons.
“There are lessons for everybody. Probably as vice-chancellors we need to explore innovative ways of engaging students; but we do not entertain violence under any circumstance. If you feel aggrieved, we have laid down processes and procedures of addressing grievances. So under no circumstance should anybody take the law into his own hands,” he stated.
Prof. Gyapong commended the government for its intervention in closing down the university to avert further damage to properties, adding, “I find this prompt action commendable, otherwise nobody can tell what could have happened. But beyond that, we need to allow the processes to work to ensure that the university is reopened as quickly as possible.”
He said it was too early to apportion blame and asked that the committee that would be set up by a reconstituted governing council be allowed to do its work and come up with recommendations on the way forward.
Cost of damages
Earlier, the University Relations Officer of KNUST, Mr Kwame Yeboah Jnr, had told journalists that after an assessment of the damages caused by the students, it was realised that the university would need about GH¢1.7 million to fix the mess.
According to him, the amount excluded the cost of items stolen or lost during the riots.
The officer said a committee would soon be constituted to look into the matter and determine the way forward.
However, he said management had since started a process of replacing some of the destroyed items to facilitate work to enable the university to reopen on time.