Students of the Ghana School of Survey and Mapping (GSSM) in Accra have vowed not to vacate the school until the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, rescinds his decision to close down the school.
According to the students, there had not been any official communication from the minister to them to that effect.
Additionally, they argued that the minister had not made adequate plans to relocate them from their current site.
The students said majority of them were in their final year, with barely three weeks for them to complete their programmes, and, therefore, the action of the minister was inappropriate.
When the Daily Graphic visited the school yesterday, some of the students had gathered in their numbers at various points on the compound to discuss the directive by the minister.
Some of them were also spotted in their hostels on the compound, while others went about their normal duties.
There was also a strong police presence in the school, while some past students were there to solidarise with the continuing students.
The 1987 Year Group, for instance, expressed their full support for the students’ action and indicated that they were prepared to stand by them.
Meanwhile, a meeting which was scheduled to take place between the students’ leadership and the minister was called off at the 11th hour.
The Vice-President of the Students Representative Council (SRC), Mr Isaac Kwabena Agyapong, said in an interview that he believed the minister had not been properly briefed and was misled by the authorities of the Lands Commission.
“We believe that the minister was wrongly briefed by the Lands Commission because the student body had been painted as devils.
“As a result, there has been lack of communication between the students and the minister because we are perceived as bad people,” he said.
Mr Amewu ordered the immediate indefinite closure of the GSSM in Accra last Tuesday after the students had been accused of destroying some items belonging to a private developer working for the Lands Commission.
He also directed the students to vacate the school premises and the hostel facilities with immediate effect.
Lecturers of the school were also asked to suspend their activities while steps were taken to assign them other duties.
The students, in turn, alleged that the continuous operating reference systems (CORS) and other equipment used for practical work had been destroyed by the contractor.
But Mr Amewu dismissed their claim and condemned their actions, describing them as unlawful and a breach of administrative procedure.
According to him, part of the land in question was only being used to develop an office complex for the Lands Commission, and not what the students claimed.
“The claims of the students are unfounded and I totally condemn their behaviour and actions as unlawful and a breach of administrative procedure.
“On the allegation that survey pillars have been destroyed, I wish to state that it is untrue. In fact, there are five survey pillars on the Survey and Mapping Division of the Lands Commission premises, opposite the El-Wak Sports Stadium, and currently being used on a daily basis,” he said.
“What was even regrettable was the fact that the Lands Commission had met the student body several times to address their concerns but they refused to understand and went ahead to destroy properties,” he added.
Mr Amewu indicated that the Lands Commission had put in place short, medium-to-long term measures to prevent future occurrences.
He said one of the measures was to put immediate plans in place to ensure that the GSSM was accredited by the National Accreditation Board (NAB) to give backing to the certificates awarded by the school.
Additionally, he said a board would soon be constituted to assist with the day-to-day management of the school.
“The vision of the commission is to expand the scope of the school to train students not only in surveying and mapping but also valuation, estate and records management to provide middle-level manpower for the commission and the nation at large,” he stressed.
The minister also reaffirmed the Lands Commission’s commitment to acquire land and use its funds to develop permanent facilities for the school as part of long-term measures.
“The management of the Lands Commission has also identified five parcels of land in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and is in negotiations with the landowners to acquire those lands for the purpose of developing the school and the commission,” he added.