Hundreds of students of the Bong County Technical College (BCTC) were excited on Monday when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf promised them the completion of the future home of the college, which has been overly delayed.
According to President Sirleaf, central government is working with the Bong County Legislative Caucus and the local administration to ensure that the construction of the college is fast tracked so that the students can have a new modern and well equipped campus that would be a vibrant environment ideal for learning.
The President was greeted by a peaceful protest at the Gbarnga Administrative Building, where she had gone to dedicate the Bong County Service Center and also officially open the National Development Summit meant to review the progress and challenges of the Vision 2030 implementation.
The students had gathered singing songs and chanting slogans expressing their desire for higher education. They carried placards appealing to the President to do something about the poor condition of the college. They also said that they were tired of renting buildings to host BCTC, which is of no use to them because the rental fees could be used to improve their own campus or undertake other development initiatives in the county.
“Grand Bassa County now has a modern campus, but we are yet to get ours. Madam President, please help us in this endeavor because we want to go to school. This college is our only hope and we want it completed soon,” the students pleaded.
Some of the students indicated that if the remaining construction is left only with the local administration and the Legislative Caucus, the job will not be done as most of the leaders are busy with other activities.
The students stood in front of the Administrative Building for hours while the programs were proceeding. They were later advised to proceed to the BCTC construction site as the President would later inspect progress on the facility. The Chinese-Liberian Construction Company is undertaking the project.
President Sirleaf, upon listening to the students, assured them that government is doing all it can to work with the legislature through the Bong County Legislative Caucus to complete the campus.
“You all know that we have spent a lot of money on this building to be completed, yet it has not been completed up to now. But I assure you that the interim team here will report to us and we are working with the legislature through the Bong County Legislative caucus to see the completion of this school because you all have waited patiently for the completion,” the President acknowledged.
BCTC currently leases the William V. S. Tubman Gray United Methodist School campus, where classes are conducted pending completion of its campus.
The government of Liberia initially spearheaded the construction of the BCTC along with the county until September 2015, when President Sirleaf mandated the Ministry of Public Works and authorities of the college to take charge of the construction. But the campus is yet to be completed, with many pointing fingers at then President John Flomo for the delay which, they said, led to President Sirleaf indefinitely suspending him recently.
An interim management team headed by the Board Chairman of the college, Dr. Walter Wiles, was constituted by the President to spearhead the activities of the college until a new president can be appointed. Dr. Wiles is also the Director General of the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI).
He then took President Sirleaf on a guided tour of the facility while informing her of the progress that is being made and the challenges that are on hand. The management team has, meanwhile, appointed Dr. Roland Massaquoi as the Acting President of the college.
Dr. Flomo was suspended by the president for his alleged involvement in activities that, according to reports, were hampering the smooth operation of the college resulting in the slow pace in the construction of the campus. He was directed to turn over all properties of the technical college in his possession to the Board of Trustees.
The suspended president has dismissed claims of mismanagement, noting that it is far from reality.