Legon, National Security In Tango

Prof Ernest Aryeetey, Legon VC
The Okponglo end entrance of the University of Ghana, Legon, is making the headlines once again as the authorities of the premier tertiary institution and the Office of the National Security Coordinator are locked up in a logjam over it.

Two statements from both organizations on the construction of a new structure at the entrance are raising temperature and contradicting each other. Whereas the office of the National Security Coordinator claims it directed a suspension of the construction of the structure, the university authorities deny receiving such a directive.

A statement from the National Security Coordinator’s office suggests that the university authorities had been asked to put on hold the project pending an Environmental Protection Agency impact assessment report during a meeting – something the authorities’ latter has denied and which remains a bone of contention.

The structure, according to the school, is to serve as an observation post, part of a larger entrance facility – a standard feature of universities the world over.

The Director of Public Affairs of the University of Ghana, Stella Amoah, said the structure does not pose a security risk to the general public.

The university authorities in their statement on the subject, recalled a meeting held with personnel of the office of the National Security Coordinator to discuss the construction last Friday, May 30, 2014.

Continuing, the authorities said they were requested to allay the fears of sections of the public with more publicity about the construction.

‘At no time did the security officials direct the university to stop work on the structure.

No such directive has been received subsequently,’ the authorities said adding, ‘Any press reports that suggest that the university has been directed to stop the construction are false.’

The University of Ghana restated that the structure was not for collecting tolls.

In its statement, the office of the National Security Coordinator recalled the meeting held between it and officials from the Motor Transport and Traffic Department of the Ghana Police Service on one hand, and representatives of the University of Ghana on the other last Friday, 30 May, to discuss issues relating to what it described as a ‘reconstruction of a structure, [LEGON Toll Booth] at OKPONGLO entrance of the University of Ghana, LEGON.’

The structure, the statement noted, was removed earlier because it caused a nuisance to users of the Tetteh Quarshie-Adenta-Aburi highway.

According to the national security officials, the meeting was told that the new structure was only an observation post/security checkpoint and would not have any adverse effect on human and vehicular traffic on the highway.

The national security team and their police counterparts, the statement went on, demanded that the university authorities request ‘for a social impact assessment report from the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] for further action or relocate the structure further inland to rule out the possibility of spillover onto the Highway.’

The statement indicated, ‘The security team also directed the university put on hold the on-going construction work until the impact assessment report is obtained or the project is relocated,’ something the university authorities deny.

The construction of a toll booth and its subsequent stoppage amid a public outcry appears to have been jinxed.

In the heat of the confusion surrounding the collection of tolls and the spillover of vehicular traffic onto the highway leading to Madina and Aburi when a booth was constructed, the former National Security Coordinator, Mr. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, ordered a demolition of the structure.

He attracted public opprobrium for the manner in which he demolished the structure within a public university – something that many speculate culminated in his ouster.

But with the university authorities denying the claim by the National Security Coordinator’s office, another chapter appears to have been opened in the no-love-lost relationship between the two.

By A.R. Gomda

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