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Pwani University strike still on, protesting students insist

Monday October 21 2019

Pwani University strike

Union leaders speak to protesting students outside Pwani University. The students have vowed to continue with their strike and called for the resignation of Vice Chancellor Mohamed Rajab for failing to address their grievances. PHOTO | MAUREEN ONGALA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAUREEN ONGALA
By MAUREEN ONGALA
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Pwani University students have vowed to continue with their strike and called for the resignation of Vice Chancellor Mohamed Rajab for failing to address their grievances.

Operations at the university have been paralysed since Monday last week after the institution was closed indefinitely following the students’ riots.

The students are camping outside the university’s gate.

Addressing students after being discharged from hospital where he was admitted last Monday after a beating by police officers for allegedly inciting students, Pwani University Students Association (Pusa) President Fikirini Jacobs said the administration should not take for granted the cry of thousands of students who are demanding for their rights for them to be in class.

SERIOUS ISSUES

“The students have come out in masses because there are serious issues affecting them. They have refused to go home and they want the problems solved for learning to continue,” said Jacobs.

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He said the only solution to the current impasse is for the administration to solve their problems.

“Even if the administration opens the university today or after years and the problems are still there, we will still go back home because the concerns will still rise again,” he said.

He claimed that the administration provoked students to riot inn order to raise money to address a financial crisis as the university has a pending debt with KRA which led to its accounts being frozen.

NO OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION

Mr Jacobs said despite him being a member of the university’s senate, he has not received any official communications of the happenings since the strike started.

“There are meetings that are going on but they are null and void because they are not properly constituted. I have never sat in any meeting,” he said.

Pusa Secretary General Collins Serem said they will not allow the administration to continue to suppress the rights of the students while in the institution.

He said they will not allow any fines to be imposed on students to pay for damages.

“There are issues that we have been raising with the administration over time and they have never listened to us. We are saying enough is enough. We will keep fighting for our rights,” said Mr Serem.

SITTING ON THE FLOOR

The vice chancellor is being accused of failing to provide seat for 7000 students, which has forced them to sit on the floor during lectures.

Other grievances include failing to provide proper medical care for students, not providing security and not giving students pocket money while on academic trips.

Some of the students say they have never gone for a single academic tour despite paying for the same.

An internal memo dated October 19 and signed by the VC has asked students to report back on October 28.

Each student is to pay Sh4,500 for the damages caused during the unrest on October 14, 2019.

All students are also required to have paid their fees in full in order to be readmitted back to the University.

Efforts to get a comment from the vice chancellor were not successful.