UNAM Oshakati students protest, demand hostel

12 May 2017 16:20pm
OSHAKATI, 12 MAY (NAMPA) – Close to 50 students of the University of Namibia’s (UNAM) Oshakati Campus on Friday erected a shack on campus in protest of them not having hostel accommodation.
Led by the campus Student Representative Council Vice President Junias Shilunga, they erected the corrugated iron sheet structure between buildings and spray-painted on it ‘Lazarus Hangula Block 1’.
Shilunga said they are tired of being ignored by management in their pleas for a hostel.
“We had already warned them that we would erect this structure after we demonstrated last year October, and we gave them until 28 February to respond to us, but they did not,” he said.
The students were chanting “We want hostel!” while constructing the shack.
Hangula is UNAM vice chancellor.
The students who live around the town, complained of their compromised safety and poor academic performance.
One student claimed they are robbed of their valuables when they leave campus and that their rented rooms are constantly being broken into while they are at school.
“We are unable to stay on campus for as long as we want to study, because they literally kick us out of classes from 22h00,” nursing student from Uganda, Japhet Ambuka told Nampa.
A large number of students commute daily from other towns; some for 60 kilometres, because they can’t afford rent closer to the campus.
Maria Erastus, a third-year nursing student, complained of how the shack she is renting got flooded during the rainy season and damaged most of her belongings, including expensive textbooks.
“There is no electricity where I live so I am forced to stay on campus until 22h00, but my safety is compromised afterwards because I have to walk home from campus,” said Erastus.
In response to the situation, UNAM Northern Campus Communications and Marketing Officer, Linus Amunyela informed the media that despite the seriousness of the hostel issue, students had crossed the line and a case of trespassing has been opened against them.
“We understand that accommodation is a need for these students and we are working towards a plan to construct some facilities as soon as possible, but they need to be patient,” Amunyela said.
Since its existence in 1998, the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital had provided students from the UNAM Oshakati Campus with accommodation, but this deal ended in 2013.
This was because the Ministry of Health and Social Services prioritised its own enrolled nurses, as well as participants of other expanded nursing training programmes offered under the ministry, said Amunyela.
He said UNAM is looking for public-private partnerships in the construction of student accommodation.
The frustrated students’ structure was dismantled Friday after Namibian Police Force Commander in the Oshana Region, Commissioner Rauha Amwele was called to the scene.
The students refused to engage with Amwele, noting they have “bigger” plans in mind.