From frying pan to fire for students

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By Sino Majangaza

The University of Fort Hare students who moved from their Union Arcade residence into the NBS building in East London for safety reasons have claimed the new residence is even more dangerous.

Kitchen space at the Union Arcade where University of Fort Hare students have been evacuated Picture: SUPPLIED/FILE

Hundreds of students were evacuated from the Union Arcade building in July after a ceiling collapsed on sleeping students, injuring one.

The university then found the students temporary accommodation at the city’s beachfront Windsor Cabana and Protea and Express Lodge hotels, before moving them to the NBS building right opposite Union Arcade.

However, the students claim the conditions at the new residence are worse than at Union Arcade.

University spokesman Khotso Moabi said the building was evaluated prior to moving the students and was found to be adequate to accommodate them.

He admitted there were issues that needed to be sorted out.

“We have talked to the owner of the building and everything is being sorted out,” he said.

One of the students, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised, said: “We have problems with water, electricity and toilets. The problems with this place are just endless.

“To come back to a place across the road from Union [Arcade] with an even worse roof, broken windows, showers with no doors and three toilets at the end of a scary corridor [does not make any sense],” said the student.

Another student said: “Windows do not close properly. Water is on and off. It is just a nightmare.

“On my floor it is about 40 of us and we only have five toilets and we have to share one stove.

“There are other stoves, but if we use them all at once they trip the electricity,” the student claimed.

Another student, who sent the Daily Dispatch pictures of hanging ceiling boards, accused the university of not being fully honest as to why they were moved from Union Arcade.

“The conditions at this building are below standard. It just does not make sense why we would be removed from Union Arcade to this mess. We want to go back [to Union Arcade].

“The way it [NBS] was designed was not meant to accommodate students. It is bad [when] comparing it to Union Arcade,” she said.

When the Dispatch visited the building this week, acting dean of students Prince Dabula led a delegation into the building.

The Dispatch was refused entry into the NBS building.

Student central housing committee member Xolani Radebe said the move was a huge inconvenience for students.

“They [students] were forced to move out in less than 24 hours after receiving notice.

“As the residence office in governance and the central housing committee, we vehemently rejected such conduct.

“It does not make sense to us that students would be moved not twice, but three times when they pay a staggering amount of R22000 for accommodation.”

Radebe said students had also complained that some of their electrical appliances had been damaged by the electricity supply at the NBS building. — sinom@dispatch.co.za

-Dispatch Live

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