By Jonathan Ugbal
Staff and other residents in the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) staff quarters in the Calabar campus of the varsity have protested over the non availability of water, level of insecurity among others.
The staff and residents who carried placards with several of their grievances inscribed on them marched from the staff quarters through the school to Ekpo Abasi junction and back into the school compound terminating at the Vice Chancellor’s office.
The staff led by one Dr. Ntino presented a letter containing their grievances to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Owan Enoh for onward delivery to the visitor of the institution, governor Benedict Ayade.
Presenting the letter, Ntino said despite the fact they spend around 250,000 Naira annually for renovations, “our houses are quite terrible, every time there is rain, staff line their houses with pails (buckets), sometimes they can’t sleep in their beds”.
Continuing, Ntino lamented a situation where the Varsity’s lands have been taken away by land grabbers and built upon which he said had caused the creation of a new community whose access is through the school with the attendant social impact being the insecurity it constitutes as “properties and cash running into millions” have been lost in several robbery incidents.
On water supply, Ntino wondered why “staff have been reduced to getting water from gutters to flush, wells and boreholes that you can’t vouch for their decency and safeness” in the 21st century which according to him was not the case at the inception of the staff quarters.
Also, he questioned why it has taken so long for the over 10 million owed staff residing in the staff quarters to be paid, about 4 years after the immediate past visitor, governor Liyel Imoke approved “economic rent” for staff which took almost a year before it was implemented.
Corroborating with Ntino, Town Planner Bassey Ekeng disclosed that over 25 houses in the staff quarters were at risk of flooding due to the termination of the flood channel halfway to the Qua river which he says over the years led to siltation with the government evacuating the silt, which he added stopped about three years ago.
Furthermore, Ugorji Nwabueze a staff in the Mass Communication department stressed that the insecurity experienced in the institution by staff and students is “occasioned by the illegal community that we are cohabiting with”.
He warned that it was a crisis waiting to happen and called on the government to evacuate the community.
Receiving the letter, Owan Enoh said all, but the issue of water supply were out of the institution’s hands.
He acknowledged the issues raises were factual and highlighted some steps that have been taken which he says include writing to the Calabar South council asking for the relocation of the market at the institution’s gate and to DOPT to ensure no commercial vehicle goes beyond the Ekpo Abasi junction.
Also, he said the management’s consciousness was visible in the fact that bushes around hostels and offices have been cleared to ensure the area is secured. He lamented a situation where the varsity has become a dump yard for broken down vehicles and disclosed that laboratories and offices were broken into frequently.
He commended the manner in which the staff organised themselves even as he expressed optimism that the issues raised in the letter will be addressed and promised to step up and do more to ensure the varsity is secured as according to him, the school is very porous.
On water supply, he said that “beginning from this dry season we will drill boreholes in the quarters so that you can get the quality of water that you deserve”, adding that, “We take your action not as a reprimand, not as an indictment on our part but simply as some kind of impetus to tell management that there is more we can do”.