Angry parents of pupils and students of the University Primary and Junior High School of the University of Ghana and other commuters to the university campus yesterday morning blocked the Achimota gate to the university campus.
The action of the parents and commuters followed the decision of the university authorities to restrict vehicular access to the university campus to only staff of the university and motorists displaying the university’s car stickers.
Boldly displayed at all the entries to and exits of the university are banners which read, “No UG sticker, No entry” and “No UG sticker, No exit”.
As of 8.40 a.m. when the Daily Graphic arrived at the gate, long winding queues of vehicles had formed up, entirely blocking a stretch of the road from Achimota to the university.
Some parents complained that they had got to the entrance as early as 6 a.m. but were still there by 8.40 a.m. because they could not have access to the campus.
Others who were going to the campus to do business had to park their vehicles at the gate and make the rest of the journey on foot, while those who wanted to go there with their vehicles were directed to use the Okponglo entry point. Cost of stickers
Private vehicles seeking the university stickers are required to pay GH¢400 a year, while commercial vehicles are to pay GH¢500 a year.
Currently, private vehicles without the car stickers can only access the university campus through the Okponglo entry point and exit through the same way. All the other entries and exits are restricted to drivers with the stickers. Angry parents
Parents taking their children to school yesterday morning were prevented from entering the campus with their vehicles until they bought the stickers.
While some of them decided to return home with their children, others insisted on taking their children to the school, a situation which resulted in a near scuffle.
Policemen had to beef up security at the gate to restore order.
The security men mounted a barricade to prevent vehicles without the stickers from entry.
The angry parents decided to park their vehicles in the middle of the road, thereby blocking vehicles with the stickers from entering or exiting the university campus.
The parents argued that they were unable to acquire the stickers because the university authorities had given them less than a week’s notice, which they felt was too short.
They felt that paying GH¢400 after paying their children’s school fees amounted to extortion, stressing that a receipt indicating the payment of school fees should be enough to allow parents access to the campus.
They also threatened to withdraw their children from the school if the management of the university insisted that parents should pay for the stickers.
“If they insist that we buy the stickers, we will withdraw our children and we shall see whether they can run the school. Last year, we generated GH¢90,000 in fees, while those within the university could only manage GH¢20,000,” they claimed. Police presence
There were a number of uniformed policemen stationed between the angry parents and the university security at the gate to ensure that the stand-off did not degenerate. Crunch meeting
Briefing the parents who had gathered at the gate, the Deputy Chairman of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of the University Primary School, Rev Acheampong Yiadom-Boakye, said after a crunch meeting with the registrar of the University of Ghana, it was agreed that parents could drive in and out of the campus with their children, while a lasting solution was found to the problem.
He said the PTA executive told the university authorities that “what we want as members of the PTA is recognition as members of the university community. We should have been consulted on some of these major decisions”. PTA proposal and reactions
Rev Yiadom-Boakye said the PTA executive proposed GH¢100 for each sticker and was hopeful that the proposal would be approved.
But some of the parents rejected that proposal outright, stressing that it would amount to extortion.
He, however, thanked the parents for the solidarity shown, explaining that the executive had already met the registrar who would convey their concerns to the vice-chancellor.
He appealed to the parents to go back home, while the executive continued to negotiate with the management of the university.
A concerned parent, Mr Kusi Obeng, said the university authorities should not hide behind security concerns to charge people entering the campus, stressing that “even if it is GHc100, it amounts to extortion. The stickers are for identification and not to help the university to raise funds”.
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