No movement on major Turkeyen campus renovations

The roof of the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) has been the only issue from a list of concerns about conditions at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus to be addressed, a month after the end of protest action by workers, staff and the student body.

At the end of February, the Labour Ministry brokered an agreement with the striking University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), and the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU), for a resumption of work.

Pro-Chancellor Prem Misir had identified rehabilitation and infrastructural works, including the painting of buildings, work on the washrooms, drainage and irrigation, electric works and fencing, among areas for urgent attention, but to date none of these projects has been started.

Vice President of the UGSSA Dr. Melissa Ifill told Stabroek News that the work on the ceiling of GWLT has been completed but said that further operations on campus have not been observed.

“We see no evidence of anything else being done… and we don’t know if or when anything else will start,” she said.

Ifill further stated that photographs recently surfaced of students attending classes with open umbrellas. She considered it appalling that students must go to such extents to acquire a tertiary education here.

This, she said, is proof that there are still leaking roofs in many lecture rooms. In addition, she pointed out that there are many window panes that are missing on buildings.

Similarly, President of the UGSS Duane Edwards yesterday told this newspaper that work on the roof of the library, which had started since last semester, is now continuing.

He explained that the construction was stalled last year but works resumed last week. Apart from this, Edwards said no other work was visible on the Turkeyen Campus.

Ifill had admitted that Misir provided them with no timeline when he presented the list of items identified to be rectified and this has served as a concern to the unions.

“It did not speak to a time frame… but we are supposed to meet with the administration on a monthly basis for the first couple months and then only as it is necessary later on, but we’ll first address issues of this specific nature,” she indicated.

After several efforts made to contact Misir by this newspaper, the Pro-Chancellor indicated that the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Marilyn Cox would be the appropriate person to speak to about the works, since she was well informed about the situation. However, Stabroek News was unable to reach Cox, repeatedly being told that she was in a meeting and would be unable to speak.

The UGWU, the UGSSA and the University of Guyana Students Society (UGSS) had been behind the ‘Operation Rescue UG’ initiative, following the firing of a number of lecturers, including Freddie Kissoon, by the UG Council. The three groups will host a press conference today to address the termination of lecturers’ contracts, the need for a new UG Council by April 1, 2012 and the results of a petition launched to replace the Council. A dossier that outlines the conditions on campus along with recommendations to remedy deficiencies will also be presented.

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