The University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) otherwise known as ‘Eastern University’ at Somanya in the Yilo Krobo District, Eastern Region is set to admit its first batch of students this year. The university is currently in the hands of interim management consisting of engineers and technicians who are taking care of the maintenance of equipment and other technical issues.
Plans are however underway to constitute an interim governing council in the medium term which will appoint Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and other key management staff for the running of the University before the first admission is open in August 2020.
This was revealed by the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwasi Yankah, when he visited the school on Friday. Prof . Yanka toured the University to ascertain the level of completion of the work where he expressed satisfaction for the work done so far.
Work done so far
As at Friday when the Minister visited the place, Messrs Contracta Construzioni Italia, the Italian company constructing the University, explained that they had finished with the main construct and was more than 90 per cent complete with installations.
The lecture hall block for the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences has 13 halls with a total seating capacity of 1,545, a video conference room with a seating capacity of 40, a computer Research Room with a seating capacity of 24. Offices for senior lecturers, students’ common room, telecom rooms, washrooms and stores among others had all been completed.
Other facilities including the multi-purpose hall comprising of a 252 seater multifunctional Hall, control room, 100 seater dining room, cafe, kitchen, serving area, locker rooms, washrooms and stores were all ready for use at the time of visit. A laboratory building for the School of Agriculture and Agro – Entrepreneurship Development having seven laboratory rooms with a total seating capacity of 132, seven apparatus rooms, telecom rooms, washrooms and stores had also been completed with laboratory equipment procured and awaiting installation.
An 80-bed capacity students’ hostel, faculty offices and administration block has also been completed and ready for use. A five-bedroom residential facility for the Vice-Chancellor, fully furnished, is available for use while the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and key officers’ accommodation were also fully furnished for use. There is also water supply and waste management system in place to make good use of wastewater among other electrical supply systems.
Prof. Yankah further disclosed that this is the first phase of the construction. Indicating that, the second phase will comprise the development of two other faculties for the University.
He expressed optimism that, the University will not deviate from its core mandate of training professionals for sustainable development and Environment.
In an attempt to spark a non existent tribal conflict between Krobos and Akyems, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, in 2017 stated that the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had relocated the main campus of the university from Somanya to his home town, Kyebi.
This blatant falsehood was rebutted by the Ministry of Education. However, Mr. Ablakwa in conceding that he had lied further stated that the University had been relocated to ‘Bunso in the Kyebi’ area.
When he was challenged that the main campus of the University had not been moved, he maintained his stance.
The NDC then in 2018 incited a group of party activists calling itself ‘United Krobo Foundation’ in the Krobo area to ‘use all possible means’ to resist what it calls ‘the attempt of government to relocate the Main Campus of the University to Bunso’.
The party activists hit the principal streets of Somanya with a strong protest. Dressed in red, the members carried numerous placards bearing inscriptions like “President rescind your decision”, “Go back to your drawing board,” “Krobo deserves the main campus”, among other inscriptions.
Eastern Regional Minister’s Visit
This forced the Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfour, to visit the Somanya site of the University with media men in August 2018 to ascertain for themselves the progress of the project and to clarify the falsities surrounding the project.
During the visit, a team of delegation from Contracta, led by Rafael Bruno Ferriera and Avanguard, a Ghanaian consultancy firm for the project, led by Stephen Yankah took the minister and the media personnel round to inspect work on the project.
Mr. Bruno explained at the time that work began in January 2018 and was 15 per cent complete at the time of the visit. He assured the minister that they will complete the work and handover to government by January 2020.
Speaking to the media after his tour of the site, the Regional Minister assured the general public that, government had no plans of relocating the main campus from Somanya to Bunso.
He stated that the University is an establishment of the law and the UESD Act (2015), Act 898 passed by the Parliament of Ghana has not been changed to warrant the hullabaloo surrounding the establishment.
Mr. Darfour explained that the UESD Act 989 which sites the main campus at Somanya also states that the University will have Campuses at Donkorkrom and any other campuses at other parts of the Eastern Region.
He indicated that the Bunso Campus had become apparent due to the fact that the Korean EXIM Bank that is providing the $90million funding for the UESD satellite campus opted for Bunso which already has a Cocoa College and therefore has some level of infrastructure ahead of Donkorkrom.
“I had to come with the media to come and see for themselves what is happening. People have made it look like there is nothing at all happening here. Some people have not even come here before and yet write things to make it look like foundation has even not been built, meanwhile, as we are all witnesses to, work is ongoing,’ the regional minister said at the time.