Troubles have erupted at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic after the executives of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) allegedly bought a 12-seater school bus not only at an extortionate Gh¢70,000 but also for angry students, whose dues were taken to cover the expense, to find the van too rickety to be worth their money.
The disappointed students, thousands in their numbers, have strongly rejected the bus and have levelled open threats to “smash it into pieces” if sighted on the campus.
Reports indicate that the bus has, in the wake of the threats, been parked at the school’s satellite campus at Bukere, a community about 15 kilometres away from Sumbrungu where the main campus is situated. There are still doubts about the safety of the vehicle at Bukere as the students have also warned they would go all-out for it there and vandalise it.
“The van is very old. Even when they were bringing it all the way from Kumasi, it broke down two times on the way. We have written a petition to management to return the bus and bring back our money! There are many things on campus we want to do with our money. We contributed all our monies to pay SRC dues and they used the dues to go and buy that old rickety bus,” a student lamented.
Whilst a number of the students chorused repeatedly, “We don’t want the bus”, another student said, “We have written many petitions to management in vain on this matter and we have rather received threats that we would be dismissed and denied our certificates if we let this issue go out to the public”.
Road demonstration coming up
Starr News has gathered the students intend to wage an open demonstration if their demands- to return the bus and to refund their monies- are not met.
About 150 students so far have also endorsed deafening calls for the impeachment of the President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), Francis Bugase, who is reported to have spearheaded the purchase of the bus against the interest of the students’ body. The students are also up in arms against the Dean of Students, Dr. Osei Peter Boamah, for his purported backing of the purchase and an alleged threat to hand dismissal to any student involved in the upcoming demonstration.
But rage seems to have overtaken fear on campus as the incensed students say no amount of intimidation can avert the protest march they have planned to unleash on campus and in the streets under police watch once they run out of patience.
“We are not deterred by the threats. Demonstration will surely take place if management fails to resolve this matter without delay. This is the case 95% of the over 4,000 students of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic are angry and hot. It’s either they return the bus and give us our money or explain how the bus is costing that much.
“That bus should not even be up to Gh¢10,000. We will take management to court if we don’t get to the bottom of this issue. That bus is more than 13 years old. We can’t just understand. If anything happens, it’s not our fault. We are hitting the road. We want investigations into the nefarious activities going on in our school,” said one of the students, showing a long list of students calling for the SRC president to be impeached.
Invoice exposes bus details
Also in the hands of the protesting students were copies of the petitions they said they had written in vain to the school authorities and a copy of an invoice revealing the amount and source of the controversial van among other details.
The students, relaying a breakdown of the expenditure as allegedly explained to them by those who bought the vehicle, said Gh¢66,000 was paid for the bus and Gh¢4,000 was spent in bringing it from Kumasi to Bolgatanga.
“The information we have is that the bus was picked from Magazine in Kumasi, re-sprayed with a different colour and brought to Bolga. And we also heard that the invoice was manufactured on our campus. When you check the invoice, you would realise that there is no company name except the name of an individual and a private number.
“And our school management is silent about it and is threatening us with dismissal if we go on demonstration. They want the final-year students to leave the school and this matter will die there. We shall demonstrate and be waiting for sanctions for fighting for justice,” a final-year student affirmed.
Rector meets aggrieved students
The protests come at the time the Upper East Region is hosting the 2017 Annual Inter-Polytechnic Games with the Bolgatanga Polytechnic at the hem of local arrangements.
The school’s management, from the onset of the troubles, had set up a five-member committee- including three management staff and two SRC delegates- to investigate the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the bus. The committee has submitted its report to the Rector, Dr. Mba Atinga, for comments and decisions at the management and academic board levels.
Starr News sighted a hardcopy of the report at the rector’s office Tuesday. Whilst management says attention on the ongoing inter-polytechnic games may suspend action on the recommendations contained in the committee’s report until the games are over, preliminary comments suggest the committee had sniffed fraud in the bus deal.
Dr. Atinga affirmed that anyone found culpable by the report would be dealt with according to the rules and regulations of the school. He and other top members of the school’s management cited examples of some SRC executives who misappropriated funds and were made to refund the pocketed cash even after some of them had graduated from the institution. Management also stated that the bus at the centre of the controversy was never taken away from Sumbrungu and re-parked at Bukere for fear of being vandalised. The school’s vehicles, according to the authorities, have always been parked at Bukere because, unlike the Sumbrungu campus that has grass, the vehicles, including the controversial bus, are safer at the Bukere campus because there is no grass there to attract fires.
Whilst disclosing to Starr News he had met with a number of the aggrieved students and advised them against the planned demonstration on his assurance that their concerns would be addressed without further delay, Dr. Atinga exonerated the Dean of Students, saying he may have initially backed the SRC President because he was misled and that his alleged threats to dismiss demonstrating students and to withhold their certificates were misconstrued. He said the dean certainly was only quoting the explicit rules of the institution which did not prohibit students’ right to demonstrate but disallowed doing so with violence and without recourse to management.
Meanwhile, the SRC President has refuted the allegations, saying the aggrieved students are being led by some colleagues who became peeved after they lost the SRC presidential election to him.