Wa is the capital of Upper West Region of Ghana. It has a population of is about 102,446 (hundred and two thousand four hundred forty six-GSS 2010). The city is about 620 kilometers from Accra, the capital town of Ghana. Among the smaller communities in the municipality is Bamahu which now forms economic base of the Wa Municipality. It has provides a space for the siting of University for development Studies-UDS Campus in Wa.
It has a population of about 2500 excluding the students. The inhabitants of Bamahu are mixed with students of the University for Development Studies (UDS) in both purpose and non-purpose built hostels. This has created a situation where it is difficult to sever out where students are specifically located from the non-school going community members when one sets out in the community. So one might not be far from the right to say that Bamahu and for that matter Wa in entirety is UDS and UDS is Wa.
The community has done well in terms of socialization by way of welcoming the entire student body and their staffs without been tribalistic or ethnocentric yet the progress of the campus is at stake.
The setbacks on the progress of the campus
The community as it stands as a campus community faces numerous constraints yet the four main ones which are impeding the social, economic and cultural development of the campus are inadequate water supply, inadequate provision of decent housing, poor environmental sanitation, and robbery of all kinds.
Nonetheless, water is a basic necessity in human life and as a matter of fact each and every individual in Ghana must have access to the provision of good drinking water. Bamahu community in the Wa Municipality has inadequate supply of good drinking water based on the fact that there is no nearby river or stream and also the flow of pipe borne waters is intermittent due to the dry nature of their land and long distances of sourcing water from the black Volta by the Ghana Water Company to the community.
This has resulted in the movement of people from their communities close to the campus thereby congesting the community to the detriment of the students.
In line with this, some households have tried their best to tap some water from beneath the ground by manpower thus the digging of wells but due to the lashing sunshine across the entire region, this wells get dry during the off season since the wells are just at the surface of the land and do not get deep into the water tables.
It is recently that some landlords have strived to tap water mechanically in a form of boreholes but this are found in few areas of the community making the problem a stand still. I therefore upon this menace recommend that mechanical services of tapping water from under the ground using sophisticated machines must be provided by the government of Ghana and supervised by the Municipal Chief executive so that ample boreholes can be provided to the people to at least if not to stop the hardship it can suppress it to make life easier to the people in the community.
Moreover, housing is another problem faced by the people in my community.
The cost of constructing a single storey block building in the community currently in accordance with preliminary market quantity estimation and market analysis done from the construction industry in the Wa municipality as a real estate professional ranges between GH₵ 4500 and GH₵ 6500 which specifically based on the high cost of building materials such as cement, wood and roofing sheets.
However, my community members are subsistence farmers and low income earners for that matter and cannot afford this extortionate prices. As a result the average room occupancy ratio is 1:6 thus a room accommodates six people instead of the standardized 1:2.Moreover, the rate of interest on mortgage loans per my market analysis is 23% which is very high for the mortgagors thus the land owners to afford to borrow due to contractionary monetary policy adopted in Ghana.
This notwithstanding, apart from the fact that room occupancy ratio is high in the community, decency in terms of housing services and sanitation is very poor stemming from the fact only 0.5% of the houses inhabited by the people are furnished with genitorials(Toilets facilities.).As such the entire community practice open defecation popularly known ( as free range).As a results, pollution of all kinds is at its peak ranging from water, air and land and the situation becomes worsened during the rainy season.
This condition of housing is even common with purpose built hostels and it would be to the surprise of visitors to see women of different caliber adopting to the system and practicing free range to the full glare of thousands since that is the only alternative. I think it is about time enforcing stringent measures on landlords to add to their buildings toilet facilities as enforced by the building regulation LI 1630 so as to ensure the supply of decent housing to the people in the community.
Moreover, this problem could also be curbed up to the perfection if the government first and foremost reduce the indirect taxes on consumer goods and services such that the cost of building materials could be lowered for the mere low income earners in the community to afford the price and this can boost their ability to construct to reduce the room occupancy ratio.
Moreover, the kind of monetary policy adopted in the country thus the contractionary monetary policy where the supply of money is been reduce due to high interest rate must be substituted by the expansionary monetary policy in order to reduce the interest rate.
This can encourage mortgages thus loans secured by real properties to improve the provision of buildings by land owners in Bamahu community rather than renting at a high cost which is not affordable due to the rack rent payable to landlords and ladies.
When this is done, borrowing will be easy and people will have access to credit facilities to boost their capacity to even buy building for themselves and pay it gradually until the amount borrowed is due.
Furthermore, another big challenge faced by the people in Bamahu community is poor sanitation due to poor waste management and disposal. The provision of waste disposal facilities is inadequate and as a result people throw refuse and dispose waste just haphazardly leading to unsanitary environment thereby causing air and water borne diseases such as cholera, malaria and guinea worm infection just to mention few.
The building regulation enshrined in the constitution says that each and every household must have access to good waste disposal specifically building services such as septic tank,sinks,rain water shoe and soakaway just to keep the environs of each household clean and hygienic. However as result of the poor nature of the people in my community they are incapable of providing this services and currently about ten (10) households share one latrine in the community and due to absence of soakaway, foul waters from the latrine, bath and kitchen flow along footpaths and minor roads in the community making the entire place filthy.
This problem can be best solved if the government provide waste disposals facilities such as dust bins and cesspits at homes to accommodate the human waste which are produce in tones every day in the community to ensure hygiene in the community.
Again this appalling situation in the community can also be reduced if the community law making bodies thus those who enforce by laws are empowered to strengthen the environmental laws such as polluters pay principle which is adopted in Singapore the neatest country in the world where a person is sanctioned to pay some an amount after consciously polluting the environment which when refused is backed by six months sentence.
When this is applied, there will be fear in the people and haphazard pollution will be suppressed. In conclusion, the problem of poor sanitation, inadequate water supply and in adequate housing supply can be reduced in Bamahu community if the government of Ghana gives much support in terms of finance and supervision.
The worst canker recently introduced on the school community is robbery. Student on campus on within the Bamahu community have been brutally robbed and rapped by native robbers who come with guns, machete and knives. This situation has created fear panic and inconveniences on the student body. The robbers have been focusing on mostly motor bicycles, Laptop computers and as usual mobile phones.Whwn your hostel is stormed is it only God who can save you. The extent to which this robbery act has gone is where those who try to strive with these students are butchered and shot to death.
Recently an innocent student lost his right forearm through fatal butchering from a a team of robbers as he tried to struggle with them for survival. The situation is becoming so much annoying when student catch a robber and send him to the police station, the next day you will see this robber working around posing threat on the students who sent him to the police station.
Now the most disturbing situation is that when exam is getting closer and students get to the campus to study, these robbers storm there and rob them with impunity. Now student have adopted a strategy of going on campus without laptop computers which was the target for the robbers.
As a results the robbers too have deduced another strategy of asking the victims of mobile money account number of pin while pointing gun on the vctims.On the 5 of December 2017, six (6) days before the exams, five serious robbery cases went on on the bamahu community and on campus of which students were the victims of whom five of them were ladies who suffered serious cutlass injuries on their heads and hand just because they had no cash on them to give to the robbers.
This problem is stem from the fact that the campus is not walled and there is no securitized entrance gate and hence open to any other person who wishes entering the campus without inspection. I therefore plead with the Ghana government especially with the security council and ministry that they should build two strong police posts one on campus and one in the Bamahu campus because as of 31/12/2017 there was not a single police post or burier to protect the students neither on campus or at the Bamahu community where most of the students and workers are been resident.
The implication of the above challenges on the success and sustainability of the campus is that is correct measures are not put in place in a known time some facilities in the various departments and faculties would be left unutilized as it would have no work to do.
This argument is stem from the fact that, since the campus commenced official work in 2002 it was 2010 that it had the highest number of enrolment almost 1500 students and since then the enrolment has been reducing to less than 1000 with some department that used to have more than 3000 students now recording less than 200 students.
The complains around the country is that apart from the harsh environmental conditions coupled with poor housing, going to UDS means you have put your live in the hands of robbers who will rob and rape you with impunity.
When a robber is caught and sent to the police station, there is a term called Tijabuni in their local language (Wale) which means we are all one and as such we do not have to imprison ourselves. But I think all of us in the world are one as descendants from Adam and Eve but our characters differ that’s why rules are there to regulate the very obstinate ones .
As a results, natives’ inhabitants are not robbed and even if they are robbed, the next day these robbers would bring his or her items to the victims upon small complain. It would be to the amazement of the world that, there is a chief thieve who is with them where native who get robbed lodge their complains for their items to be brought to them at the expense of the innocent strangers (Students).So when a robbers is caught the longer he can spend behind the bars is 3 days just protect him from been killed by the student and that’s all.
Due to this the campus continue to loss enrolment year upon year. So the question is has the issue not gotten to the police officers? I think they are waiting on the robbers to kill or rape a ward of a police officer or a minister before an action would be taken against this canker but who knows if the next Ghana president may come from UDS Wa campus. This means that future is unpredictable and as such all must be treated equally.
What ought to be done is to ensure proper security on the campus in a form of police post and barriers to check the in and out of those who enter the campus. Moreover the campus has only four (4) halls within the fringes of the campus land which is very small to accommodate the few student thereby making the students scattered in the entire Bamahu community and Wa Township in general.
It is of much important for the education ministry to build at least extra two halls to accommodate the students such that no one goes out of the campus to rent to reduce their exposure to robbery acts. The students continue to cry for help and now when it is 6:30pm you cannot be outside to get even fresh air especially when you are a lady because the least mistake would get you robbed and raped by native guys who are trained for such a purpose with impunity.
The robbers are just our neighbours, the community has condoned and connived with them to rob the student body and the only solution is to keep the students at one place with police post around them. So if Wa prisons is walled and fenced just to prevent criminals and victims of robbery who adds nothing to the development of the country from escaping why can the government fence the UDS campus as one of the best research institutions that trains people on whom the future sustenance of the country are sited? This question is for all of us.
That why this article is written to bring to the table of the government, alumni and benevolent societies both local, national and international to know all that is going on on the Campus for an aid to protecting innocent students from their perplexities.
So in a nut shell I say the progress is hanging on the fingers of the environment and the attitude of the people: Bamahu campus UDS in focus.
Department of Real Estate and Land Management
University for Development Studies-UDS Wa, Ghana
Lordina Danso Okyere
Department of Social Science and Business Education
University for Development Studies-UDS Wa, Ghana
Department of Environment and Resource Studies
University for Development Studies-UDS Wa, Ghana