‘Illegal’ structures go as varsity clears twin-campus

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The demolition of illegal structures at the Owerri and Orlu campuses of the Imo State University (IMSU) has left many traders stranded. Students were also affected. EKENE AHANEKU (200-Level Optometry) and CHIDIEBERE ENYIA (300-Level English and Literary Studies) report.

For one week, bulldozers rumbled through the Owerri and Orlu campuses of the Imo State University (IMSU), demolishing structures which the authorities described as illegal. Many business centres were affected.

Traders and shop owners watched helplessly as their structures were demolished during the exercise supervised by officials of the university’s Works Department.

Students also had a taste of the demolition. The cafeterias where they get cheap food were pulled down.

On the Owerri campus, Indomie Spot, a students’ restaurant close to the school’s indoor games centre, was flattened. The students’ cafeteria at the back of the Faculty of Engineering was not spared.

IMSU’s Mr. Bigg’s, a regular joint for medical students in Orlu, suffered the same fate. Desolate buildings and abandoned lecture rooms were also pulled down.

CAMPUSLIFE learnt that the demolition order came from the government. It is to create spaces for new structures. Before the exercise, the management gave the shop owners two weeks to leave. Our correspondents learnt that the traders complained that the notice was “too short”.

When the Works Department officials embarked on the exercise, it was learnt that students prevented them from pulling down a row of computer centres, complaining that their demolition would hurt them. The students also prevented the demolition of the cafeterias.

The officials reported to the management and returned the following week with some security men to demolish the cafeterias. The exercise was carried out when customers were having their meals and many students rushed out in order not to be trapped inside.

A female trader, who was in tears as her shop was being pulled down, said she paid about N350,000 to the management to open her computer centre three months ago. “Since they knew that they are coming to demolish the building, why did they ask me to pay that huge money? Now, they have ruined my business in a day,” she said.

CAMPUSLIFE gathered that the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie, ordered the demolition after consulting the Senate. The demolition was followed by the clearing of sites for the erection of structures for new departments and existing ones.

Faculties that will get new buildings include Law, which lost its accreditation because of the old facilities in which students were being taught.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The demolition is a directive from the school management, acting on the order of the state government that wants space for more structures to be erected for lecture halls and classrooms. So, I can tell you that the VC or any member of the management does not hate the people affected. It is for the progress of the school.”

Students, who spoke with our correspondents, complained that the exercise would bring difficulties to them because the demolished businesses offered cheap services.

Okechukwu Nwaigwe, 300-Level Religion, said: “I am not happy because of this demolition. It will affect students badly because those were the places we get food cheap.”

Clara Ezeagu, 100-Level Optometry, said: “It is sad. What is making me angry with the school is that the demolition of IMSU Mr Bigg’s was carried out when students were still eating in the building. Here, in Orlu campus, before one can buy anything, one must go out of the school. It is very painful.”

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