Students studying at the state-run University of Liberia are calling on the National Government and the University Authority to negotiate for more buses to take them to the UL Fendell Campus where most of the undergraduate colleges have been transferred.
Speaking to the Daily Observer on January 29, on the Fendell Campus during the first day of reopening, students expressed delight over the resumption of classes after two and a half months of closure. In spite of this, they raised concern over transportation constraints causing them difficulty to leave Redlight to Fendell.
The University of Liberia currently has over 30,000 students. Most of the undergraduate colleges are being transferred to Fendell with the exception of the Business College and Graduate Program, including the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law.
Students come from various parts of Monrovia and Margibi County to converge at Parker Paint in Red-Light, Paynesville to board buses to go to campus.
There are less than ten buses rented by the UL Administration to transport the thousands of students to the Fendell Campus.
The National Transit Authority (NTA) assists in the process of transporting students to and from campus based on negotiation and understanding. Despite the assistance, it is still difficult for students to cope with the situation as the number of buses available cannot meet their needs.
Students including Morris H. Nahlon, Albert Kermokai, Joseph F. Kamara and others stressed that though difficulties are associated with education and must be endured, they stand ready to pay the transport fare if buses are made available.
According to the students, they are often late for their classes because of the difficulties boarding the few buses as they (students) are many in number struggling to get on them. They told the Daily Observer that when they go late it is counted against them at the end of the semester.
In President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Annual Message delivered on January 27, she mentioned that there is a plan underway to transfer all the colleges of the University from the Capitol Hill campus to Fendell.
She said the surveying process for the university’s land is at the point of completion, and dilapidated structures there would soon be demolished to build new ones.
Even while UL students expressed hope to see these promises kept, they called on government to immediately address their pressing transportation needs. They said tackling this issue would help keep them in school as government works on the long range plan of transferring the colleges.
Meanwhile, the students— having stayed out of class for two months— were quite disappointed when their instructors did not turn out on the first day of opening.
They said they paid money to cover long distances from other parts of Monrovia to converge on the campus. To their disappointment they arrived only to find they could not start classes.
They claimed the time they wasted created setbacks to the completion of the first semester; and that they had no idea when the second would begin. They, therefore, called for their instructors to be honest and fulfill their promises by attending classes; since their main demand (the ousting of former Provost Dr. Wede Brownell) for which they (instructors) disengaged has been resolved.
On the Fendell campus Wednesday, January 29, a few instructors showed up on the first day of reopening.
During a tour of the various classrooms, three instructors were seen lecturing students in Geography, Education and Communications.