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Uganda: Makerere University students count losses

Makerere University

Makerere University

Makerere University students are growing restless over the failure of the University Council and staff to reach an agreement over the two-week-long strike.

Lillian Aber, the guild information minister, said students were losing money every additional day that the university does not open.

“The longer this issue continues, the more time the students will lose. This was supposed to be the second week of studies,” Aber said.

She also noted that students studying Bachelor of Commerce external, had already reported for studies before the university was closed nearly two weeks ago due to the strike in which the staff are demanding for a 100% pay raise.

“These students have nowhere to stay and even nowhere to eat because some of them lived in the halls of residence,” reiterated Aber.

Aber further revealed that the delayed opening of the university meant that the famous bazaar organised by the students’ guild to initiate freshmen and fresh women into campus life will be cancelled, leading to financial losses. She also worries that the delayed opening to the university might force the semester to stretch into the festive season.

Meanwhile, students who had already paid rent for hostels around Makerere are complaining that their rental period is running out before studies resume.

“I come from Tanzania and I have been in the hostel for three weeks now. I eat food and spend on other personal expenses, but I am not studying. And yet I cannot go back home since the transport fare is very expensive,” said one Mwangi.

The comments of the students come after the Makerere University Council and the staff failed to reach an agreement in a meeting at the Main Building on Friday afternoon.

However, Makerere vice-chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu, allayed fears of the students that they may not start studying anytime soon, stating that Makerere may open within two weeks from now.

“Negotiations with the staff are progressing well and if it continues this way, we could open the university very soon,” Ddumba said.

Prior to the meeting, the university had said that it had internally dug out slightly over sh20b that could bankroll a pay rise for the staff between 20% and 30% adding that a pay double was impossible, especially if the money is to come from internally mobilised resources.

Ddumba revealed that the money was unchained from budgetary allocations for travels, workshops, allowances, lubricants and roads.

Addressing the press at the senior staff canteen at Makerere University earlier on Friday, Louis Kakinda, the spokesperson of the staff, said they will not settle for a pay rise that is less than 100%. He, however, said negotiations with the University Council were promising. The two parties meet again to discuss wage increment for staff on Tuesday.

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