Varsity accommodations: The Dark Side

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Thousands of university students in Cameroon permanently live in hostels that have been erected in typically filthy environments. Urban disorder in these neighborhoods is the order of the day.

Crtv Web, visited the student residential hostel in Ngoa-Ekélé, the neighborhood that hosts the University of Yaounde 1 in Cameroon.

At the mercy of landlords

The demand for on and off campus accommodation by university students far outweighs supply. Students are constantly in search of accommodation. Given the limited rooms available, some students resort to sharing rooms with friends or family members.

Most hostels here are overcrowded and old, with lots of structural defects, yet they have never been renovated or reconstructed. Landlords in most cases are not known by the occupants of hostels. These absentee landlords authorize care takers to manage their hostels. Student say these caretakers are dubious!

The cost of a room keeps surging. Prices range from FCFA 10,000 for single rooms to FCFA 35,000 for rooms with kitchens and restrooms incorporated. Rooms are not easy to find, regardless of the cost.

A student anonymously told CRTV Web that rooms that cost 10,000frs are simply deplorable.

“Rooms that cost FCFA 10,000 generally have no restrooms. Students renting such rooms have to go to other hostels to take a bath or use the restroom. Some will even crisscross hostels many meters away to use restrooms in other hostels based on negotiations between landlords ”.

A room without a restroom

To find a room, students use the services of brokers who demand a payment of between FCFA 2000-5000 before proceeding with the search for the room.

Others are lucky to have found one by themselves. Jisette Ngouemeta, a second year student in Mathematics at the University of Yaounde 1 met her landlord by some struck of luck, when she was in search of accommodation.

Jisette Ngouemeta, a Second year student in Mathematics at the University of Yaounde 1

“I was talking to someone about my need for a room. Coincidentally, my landlord was standing near by. He accosted me for a chat, and that's how I got a room without requiring the services of a broker. I pay 25,000frs a month for a room with a restroom. The floor is not tiled. I paid for a year upfront before moving in ”.

Dry taps, no lights, yet high bills

Aside dealing with the poor sanitation in these hostels, students are forced to pay high electric bills or witness cuts. Arsene Chago, 3rd year student in Mathematics in the University of Yaounde 1 says despite constant power cuts and water shortages, dubious landlords and caretakers inflate bills and compel students to pay.

“One of our biggest problems is paying bills. Most students don't have TV sets, fans, fridges, irons and other electrical appliances, yet they sometimes have to pay up to FCFA 5,000 for electric bills. We pay bills based on estimate. We don't have a choice. The care taker just tells you how much you need to pay, and you comply, else you will go without lights ”.

Students at risk of Floods

Some hostels are constructed in marshy areas, prone to floods during the rainy season. Others are flooded because of poor drainage systems. Many rooms in such areas have been repeatedly flooded leaving serious damages. Students who live in such areas are never at peace every time it rains.

Tessongang Jeanlin, a PHD student in Social Psychology explains that
“When there are floods during the raining season, many students loose precious documents. Most of these hostels are built around swamps. If there is no one at home who can help out during the flood, you loss everything, and that's a major problem to start resolving ”.

Tessongang Jeanlin, a PHD student in Social Psychology

But landlords are not the only ones to be blamed for problems relating to poor sanitation, urban disorder, and poor management. Arsene Chago, 3rd year Arsene, Mathematics student says students are part of the problem.

“Students who have to leave their rooms sell them to others, who must first buy the rooms before complying with the landlord's demands. You must be very lucky to find a room to let. The landlord is not the only one at fault here, students are also dishonest. Instead of telling you there is an empty room in a hostel, they will pretend as if they are not aware just to find ways of making you pay for the rooms ”.

Most of these problems are nearly as old as the existence of hostels in student residential areas. But students are hoping that government will take serious decisions to instill order in the sector.

The Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacque Fame Ndongo held a meeting on September 9 in Yaounde to address these problems in university hostels across the country. The meeting was attended by landlords, representatives of the eight state universities, landlords, student representatives and partner ministries. 

Teacher. Jacque Fame Ndongo told students to regularly pay rents and bills as required of them. He warned against indiscriminate rents increase. Landlords will also have to improve security and access to hostels.

 

Kathy Neba Sina

Article Varsity accommodations: The Dark Side first appeared on Cameroon Radio Television.

This article appeared first on https://www.crtv.cm/2021/09/varsity-accommodations-the-dark-side/

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