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Opinions of Friday, 21 February 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Gbevlo Lartey Is Wrong On Legon Tollbooth Demolition

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Unless he did it with the consent of the administrators of the University of Ghana, the decision by the National Security Coordinator to summarily cause the demolition of the Okponglo entrance onto the Legon campus is flagrantly remiss and must be promptly and fiercely challenged (See "Gbevlo Lartey Justifies Pulling Down UG Toll Booth" / 2/18/14).

It is in egregious error, because even the Minister of Road Transport, against the thinking of most well-meaning Ghanaian citizens, recently declared his unreserved concurrence with the Legon authorities, on the quite practical grounds that the government did not have adequate funding to facilitate the maintenance of roadways on the campus of the University of Ghana. We also learn that the construction of the tollbooths has been necessitated by the fact of University authorities having taken out a loan to ensure the timely maintenance of these roadways themselves.

At any rate, Unless Lt.-Col. (Rtd) Gbevlo undertook his tollbooth demolition exercise in consultation with the Minister of Road Transport, he just may well have broken the law; for being National Security Coordinator is no carte-blanche for Col. Gbevlo to act at whim. On what basis, for instance, did he arrive at the conclusion that the Okponglo-entrance tollbooth onto the campus of the University of Ghana was causing unsavory traffic congestion, or a patent national-security menace?

We must also point out that Parliament has already approved the decision of the Legon authorities to collect tolls on its roadways, if memory serves yours truly right, even at the same time that the decision is being hotly contested in a legitimately constituted court of law between the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and some two student plaintiffs.

Needless to say, if the government does not promptly step in to help the University repay its road-maintenance loan/creditors, the Legon authorities may not have any other logical recourse but to immediately increase tuition and/or dorming fees for the purpose. And if the latter happens, there is almost certain to occur a vigorous kick back or fierce resistance on the part of the students, which may well prompt the closure of the country's flagship academy.

This, of course, will be incontrovertibly inimical to the intellectual and cultural development of the country. Then also, the authorities of the country's other major public academies will be forced to follow suit, since the issue at stake is not unique to the University of Ghana.

I hope President Mahama and his cohorts of administrative assistants and/or cabinet appointees, are paying sedulous attention.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Feb. 18, 2004