Angry residents of Bamahu, a suburb of Wa last Friday besieged the premises of the hospital at the University for Development Studies (UDS) to demand the reinstatement of some 19 workers who were allegedly laid off by the university.
The residents, who entered the premises with chains and locks with the intent to close down the facility, insisted that the school authorities had resorted to illegal means to oust the workers who were mostly indigines of the region, from the facility.
But for the swift intervention of the assembly member for the area, Mr Alhassan Dauda, the residents would have closed down the facility.
In an interview with the Ghanaian Times at Wa, Mr Dauda said although he shared the sentiments of the residents, he had to interfere to prevent them from locking up the hospital because of the patients on admission.
The assembly member confirmed that a number of workers, including the laboratory technicians, accountant, administrator as well as staff at the records and pharmacy units had been asked to go home and reapply to be recruited permanently or as casual workers.
He alleged that the facility was initially operated by a private company which was owned by Professor Juventus Ziem on a 10-year contract term before handing over to the institution but said the contract of the professor had also been terminated prematurely.
He indicated that he was at the scene to restore calm and dismissed the angry residents to allow for proper consultation with the authorities of the University, in dealing with the matter.
When The Ghanaian Times contacted some of the affected persons, they confirmed the issue but said they had reapplied as demanded by the institution and were waiting for engagement.
The dismissed accountant for the facility, Mr Roland Kokoro stated that the registrar of the University asked him and the administrator to hand over their work to a new person they had recruited.
“When the new accountant was brought, they asked me to hand over to her and leave or reapply to be engaged either as a volunteer or a permanent staff,” he explained.
The former pharmacist, Ms Nafisa Mustapha complained that they had not been treated fairly but said she was hoping their application would be accepted for them to go back and work for the good of the people.
She confirmed that they were engaged on contract for a year and were given appointment for five years but said that the letter was signed by Professor Juventus Ziem who was in charge of the facility as a private operator.
When contacted however, the Principal at the Wa Campus of the UDS, Professor Amin Alhassan refuted the claims that they had laid off workers and said they were not recognized workers of the institution.
Professor Amin indicated that eight of the alleged 19 workers who had been laid off were with the Ghana Health Service at various health centres, after they had served with the UDS facility for their national service, whereas three of them were on retirement and the remaining number were directly engaged by a private person and not UDS.
He explained that the institution engaged a private company to administer the hospital for a number of years but the contract was terminated so it was incumbent on the private employer, Professor Ziem to have dismissed the staff he engaged before handing over the facility to the school.
“The legal thing is that every employee of UDS has the signature of the registrar on their appointment letters but in this case, the University has not had any commitment whatsoever with the said individuals so we asked for the appropriate thing to be done, we did not engage them and their letters do not have the registrar’s signature,” he expressed.
He said they directed those who were interested in working at the facility to apply to the institution for engagement but their recruitment would be based on when they had received clearance from government to engage workers.
All efforts to reach Professor Ziem on phone to speak to the issue, proved futile as his phone was switched off.
The about 31-bed UDS Hospital began operation in 2015 and served the students as well as residents in and around Wa.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA