A $42-million hostel project to help address the accommodation challenges at the University of Ghana has begun. The 4,660-bed facility project, to be known as the Commonwealth Hall Annex, is being facilitated by the Old Vandals Association and financed by a private firm, KPMM Civils Limited.The project will be made up of a 302 one-bed block, 552 two-bed block, 3,806 four-bed block and a 32 two-bedroom lecturers’ flats.
It will also have an 8,000 capacity auditorium, a shopping mall and sports complex. A sod-cutting ceremony has taken place to officially commence the project.Present at the ceremony were the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu; the Omanhene of New Juaben, Dasebere Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng; the Omanhene of the Agogo Traditional Area, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, the Deputy Minister of Sanitation, Mr Patrick Boamah, and other prominent old vandals.
Closing the gap
The President of the Old Vandals Association, Mr Isaac Sarpong, said the hall had not seen any expansion since it was established in 1956.He said although the idea to build the Commonwealth Hall Annex was conceived in 2003, it had only now materialised with the help of the management of the hall and the old students association.
Mr Sarpong said the project was coming at a time when the university was in need of critical housing stock, and was hopeful it would help reduce the accommodation deficit at the university.
The turning point
The first phase of the Commonwealth Hall Annex project, which can accommodate about 2,500 students, he noted, was expected to be completed by next year to house the first batch of the free senior high school students. The second phase, Mr Sarpong said, was expected to be completed by the 2021/2022 academic year.
“The realisation of this project will be a turning point for the hall. Although now the smallest hall, it will the biggest when completed,” he stated. Mr Sarpong added that the association was also raising funds to refurbish the main Commonwealth Hall and expand its water supply system next year.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, said the project was a critical step in the university’s effort to expand student accommodation on campus and add to the infrastructural stock. He said the lack of adequate housing for students had posed a challenge to the university over the years.
Prof. Owusu noted that the total housing stock of the traditional halls of the university was able to provide 7,000 bed spaces, which could only cater for 25 per cent of the students. As a result, he said, the university had decoupled admission from accommodation. “University admission is, therefore, not linked to the provision of beds and students have had to compete for the few beds on a first come first served basis,” he said.
Prof. Owusu explained that the university’s capacity to undertake any further investments to augment the housing stock was largely impeded by judgement debts and other financial obligations. He noted that the management of the university had considered various approaches to improving the situation, including negotiating with private bodies to expand housing options on campus.
Currently, the university was negotiating for six acres of the university’s land to be allocated for hostel development, Prof. Owusu said. In addition, he said, the Students Representative Council of the university had initiated series of actions to build a 2,500-bed hostel to help reduce the accommodation deficit on campus.
Prof. Owusu urged the Old Vandals and KPMM Civils Limited to ensure that the Commonwealth Hall Annex project was delivered on time.