Resumption: UNILAG students Lament off-campus accommodation ordeal




       School hostels to reopen May 9

Paul Agada and Toyosi Adeniji

As the University of Lagos (UNILAG) prepares to reopen physically for the second semester of the 2019/20 session after an eleven months closure, some students of the institution have described their private accommodation ordeal with facility managers.

The emergence of the infectious COVID-19 disease in Nigeria forced the Federal Government to impose a nationwide lockdown in March 2020, a move which resulted in the physical closure of schools across all levels.

In line with the government’s COVID-19 protocol, UNILAG management chose to complete the first semester of the 2019/20 session virtually. However, the school recently announced that its second semester which is scheduled to begin by May 10 will hold physically.

Accommodation has been a constant challenge for students of the UNILAG because of the limited number of bed spaces available in the institution. As a result, some of the students resort to paying for private accommodation inside and outside the school.

Some of these students narrated their accommodation challenges to UNILAG SUN, as they may set to pay new fees because their previous agreements with their respective facility managers expired because of the COVID-19 enforced break.

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Stephanie Orakwue, a 300-level student of the department of Mass Communication told UNILAG SUN that she had to pay a new rent or she risked losing her space because the manager was keen on replacing her with a new tenant.

She said, “I stay outside school in a private hostel and I was asked to pay again. I pay N350,000 a year. The ASUU strike started in March and during that period Covid-19, we were asked to maintain social distancing. We left the hostel in March which isn’t up to three months and I am being asked to pack my things or renew my rent. There should be a 30%-50% discount because there was lockdown and it should be considered.

“She didn’t give us any valid explanation. She just kept on saying that we have to renew our rent because the rent we paid the previous year has gone, she needs to accommodate new students and she needs to make money too.”  She added that “Most people are now leaving the hostel because things are hard for everyone.”

Similarly, Segun Oyebode, a 300-level student of Mass Communication, had paid for an accommodation space in August while anticipating resumption. However, his hope was dashed when the pandemic restriction and the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ Strike persisted till December.

His rent expired and he had to renew his rent at an increased fee.

“Originally, I was staying at a particular place off-campus and the rent there was supposed at the end of March and then I’d be moving to a new place by April. Before the entire pandemic started I had already started searching for a new place to stay. I had found the place I liked and I sent a deposit to the facility manager and we had agreed that as soon as the place was ready and the person staying there moved out, I would move into the apartment.”

“So I made the payment for my new hostel around August and dropped my stuff at the hostel but ASUU did not call off their strike and COVID-19 was not relenting. Time passed by and I was unable to use my apartment, there was even an increase in rent because of the economic situation in the country. I lost quite a bit of money because of the entire scenario,” he recounted.

A 200-level student of Accounting who pleaded anonymity also lamented having to renew her accommodation rent despite the pandemic break.

She said, “ My hostel is one of the most popular private hostels around Unilag because it is just across the university’s gate. We all left school around March because of ASUU strike and COVID-19 and no one has been able to use the hostel. We expected that since people couldn’t stay at the hostel, at least half of our rent would remain and we wouldn’t have to pay a full year’s rent because we only spent two to three months out of the twelve months. We also thought that they would consider that the economy is hard for everybody.

“So to just expect everyone to just pay for another year when we don’t even know how this year is going to be like is inconsiderate. Some of us won’t even be able to come back to the hostel yet. They don’t care about us because they know that if we don’t pay, Diploma students would pay quickly and so they would still get their customers, therefore there is no loss for them but there is a loss for us because there is nothing we can do about it”

Meanwhile, the management of the University of Lagos has announced that the school hostels will be reopened from 9th May, 2021. All bonafide students are expected to sign an indemnity form and comply with the national COVID-19 guidelines.

This is according to a Whatsapp message attributed to the Dean of Student Affairs, Prof Ademola Adeleke.

It reads, “IMPORTANT NOTICE. CONDITIONS FOR ENTRY INTO THE HOSTELS FOR 2nd SEMESTER 2019_2020 SESSION.

"Must be a bonafide officially allocated and paid bed space registered in the hall for the 2019_2020 session.

"Students who meet the condition above can move into the hostels from Sunday 9 May 2021.

"Must present proof of allocation such as Hall Pass or Confirmation Slip for 2019_2020 session.

"Must submit a signed copy of the Indemnity Form.

 "Must present a bottle of hand sanitizer. (Minimum of 500ml).

"Must present at least 20 face masks.

"Must wear face mask into and out of the hostels at all times.

"Must conform to all Covid-19 protocols.

"Must not be caught promoting overcrowding in rooms beyond their carrying capacity.

"Can bring and register with the Hall Staff personal mattress, locker and table/wall fan that meet hall specifications.

"Must be willing to obey all extant rules and regulations with associated penalties for hostel residency."

 

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