As authorities of the University of Liberia (UL) prepare to resume classes on June 27, they have disclosed that US$4 million is needed to renovate the four campuses of the country’s oldest higher learning institution.
Since 1951, when the UL was established, its structures have never been a subject of any serious renovation or repair, according to university authorities.
The president of the UL, Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson, says based on consultations with engineers and technicians carrying out the renovation of the campuses of the university, an additional three weeks is needed to complete the first phase of the renovation before classes resume on Monday June 27.
“I regret to announce that the June 6 date scheduled for the resumption of classes is not possible. A new date of June 27, is now set for the resumption of classes at the University of Liberia,” Dr. Nelson said.
Dr. Nelson made the remarks on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at a press conference held at the Capitol Hill campus, indicating the extension is due to the ongoing work.
Dr. Nelson said this first phase of the work focuses on the painting of classrooms, rehabilitation of restrooms and the connection of water lines from wells to buildings as well as roads.
Dr. Nelson said an initial fund of US$375,000 was provided by the Government to jumpstart the first phase of the renovation. According to him, the current renovation exercise has raised several valid questions and concerns — chief among them being about the resumption of classes.
He said the work is being executed by technicians of the UL Administration as well as four agencies of the Government of Liberia including General Services Agency (GSA), the Ministry of Public Works, Engineering Battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE).
Dr. Nelson explained that the first phase commenced on April 6 and was estimated to last five weeks. Based on this estimation, the UL Administration in consultation with stakeholders announced the resumption of classes on June 6, 2022.
“The GSA and Ministry of Public Works are leading the first phase of the renovation, which mainly affects our Capitol Hill campus and, to a lesser extent, Fendall,” Dr. Nelson said.
According to him, the first phase covers key facilities at the UL Capitol Hill campus, including the rehabilitation restrooms, drilling of boreholes and the erection of water towers for the supply of water in various restrooms, and various plumbing works.
“Buildings on Capitol Hill that have been affected include the Firestone Quadrangle (FQ Building), the Tubman Hall, Robert Hall, and the Samuel Greenleaf Hall,” Dr. Nelson said.
“These buildings are by themselves now iconic because of the number of years they have performed the singular function of serving as the citadel of teaching and learning at this institution, from which thousands of students found great solace in the rectangular classroom spaces they offer,” he said.
He said while these buildings and structures hold many cherished memories and recollections for many of them, however, it is so sad that many of these very structures, so dearly revered, have never been a subject of any serious and massive renovation or repair for more than three decades since the founding of UL in 1951.
Dr. Nelson said if these buildings mean anything to UL, and if they are still as relevant to the present generation as they were to the past, then it is now imperative that, as managers and custodians of this great institution, the administration does something about the delipidated state of these buildings and entire campus of one of Africa’s oldest Universities.
He said the MoU, in pertinent part, requires the Government of Liberia to provide funding and thus it was estimated that more than US$4 million dollars is needed to fix, repair, restore and reconstruct existing and new infrastructure of the University of Liberia.
The entire renovation covers the Capitol Hill, Fendall, Medical School, and the Grand Cape Mount-based David A. Straz - Sinje Campuses.