Accommodation, both on and off campus for students attending tertiary institutions in the heart of the Lagos metropolis, is a challenge. On campus, they are forced to make do with unconducive living spaces; while off campus, they face high cost. BUSOLA SEBIOTIMO, RUKAYAT OMORO and ADEDAMOLA AYODEJI report on the problems they face and the changes they seek.
After gaining admission, getting accommodation is the next biggest hurdle students of tertiary institutions have to scale.
Students of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) and the University of Lagos (UNILAG) face issues staying on and off campus.
On campus, they complainED of facilities not meeting their needs; while off campus they complain about the high cost of rent and transportation to and from school.
Living on campus
Staying on campus has its advantages. First, is that hostel accommodation on campus is cheaper than off-campus. While students pay N25,000 for a bed space at UNILAG, students pay N19,000 at YABATECH. Students save money they would otherwise have spent on transportation to school; they are able to get to class on time because of proximity. They also do not have to pay utility bills as the institution is saddled with providing water and augmenting power supply from the national grid. However, it is not all that rosy for the on-campus students of YABATECH and UNILAG.
Many students who spoke with The Nation complained about their halls of residence at UNILAG being dilapidated or overcrowded. They also complained about having health issues as a result of bad toilets, untreated water, bed bugs.
A student of Marine Biology resident at Kofo Hotel complained about the poor state of the hostel, as well as overcrowding.The female student, who does not want to be named, lamented that some rooms have double the number of approved occupants, claiming that the hostel porters collected bribes to keep squatters in the hostels.
“The Kofo Hostel is bad. At times, there will not be water; the accommodation is not even conducive, and our skin reacts to all this. We are 16 in a room but we are supposed to be eight because of the squatters, they do not allow people to squat but when they find out, we will pay.
“Last week Saturday, a worker was cleaning the louvres and it fell on a girl’s head, just because the glass was already weak. Well, the cleaner is not to be blame for what happened. And when the lady was taken to the clinic, they did not treat her immediately; she was asked to bring her Identification card before they could treat her,” the student said.
Another student, who stays at Amina Hostel, said students were being forced to make repairs with their funds because there is no official in the hostel to inform the management of repairs.
The Petroleum and Gas Engineering student said: “I live in Amina Hostel. It is OK; but because of the location (it is inside of Education), they do not really pay attention. There are times that there won’t be light in the hostel. They said there was no hostel manager. There are some things that they are supposed to have renovated but they have not. When the things are too spoilt, we are the ones who repair them with our money because it is affecting us.
“Last month, a rat came into our hostel through a net that was torn. We complained but we were told we do not have a hostel manager so we had to contribute money to fix the net.
“There is also a place in the passage where water comes through inside our room. They came to check it, but they have not done anything.’’
But not all hostels of the university are so bad. A student of Finance, Opeyemi Sadiq, said he was fine with his hostel accommodation.
“The hostel is convenient. It costs N25,000 for the hostel on campus,” said the 300-Level student.
Save for the number of students in her room, another student in the Faculty of Science was comfortable in her room.
“It depends on the people you are squatting with. We are like 16 in the room. We do not have water issues. The hostel is comfortable for me,” she said.
Another student whose, hostel is in the heart of the campus, said her problem was its location from class.
“I stay on Campus. We are eight in the room. And the room is tight. The only problem I am having is coming from my hostel to school. My hostel is far from my department.There are other hostels that are comfortable, trust me mine is not,” she said.
For students of YABATECH, their problem is not so much about the state of their hostels as the high feeding cost of staying on campus.
Following a fire that gutted the institution’s Bakassi Hostel, a hostel for both males and females on November 23, 2016, a new hostel, called Hollywood, was built last session to accommodate only male students. However, students were blamed for the fire resulting in the polytechnic management banning cooking by students in the hostels. The ban is negatively affecting the students who said they spend as much as N1,000-N1,500 feeding daily.
A National Diploma (ND) 1 student of Mass Communication, who called herself Victoria, said students still try to sneak hotplates to cook in the hostel.
“I stay on campus. Not allowing us to cook, is really disturbing us in the hostel. Some people do sneak in the hot plate, but the school would still go round and then seize it.
“Instead of spending at least N500 (for a meal), I could use that to get food stuff from the market and eat well. But the reverse is the case. We spend almost N1,000 daily on food. It is really affecting us, as we are not allowed to cook. We are three in my room. The room is comfortable. It is just the issue of cooking that is the major problem all students face,” said Victoria, who stays in Akata Hostel.
Ruth Oyindamola of the Department of Accountancy, ND1, said sometimes students do not have money to buy food.
“Staying in the hostel is actually very convenient. We are not many in the room; we are just three. Everything is conducive. We are managing with the issue of not cooking. We have to go out and buy food and it is not every time we have money,” she said.
A second year student of Business Administration, who did not give his name, complained about the hostel facilities and the food. He complained that the affordable food vendor shut down, forcing students to spend more. He said the students may protest.
He said: “We don’t have water; our toilet is bad; we don’t cook in the hostel ; we even want to protest. I spend N1,500 every day to feed myself because the food they sell is very small they have even closed down the cafeteria where we buy cheap food. The name of cafeteria is Food Village. The name of the cafeteria is where the food is costly is Bukola. If you do not have money you cannot go there.”
Living off campus
For some students of both institutions, the challenges of living on campus drove them to source accommodation off campus. For others, they were forced off campus because they could not get campus accommodation.
A Mathematics student of UNILAG, David Audu (not real names), said he chose to stay off campus because students fall ill in the hostel.
“I have friends in the hostel. We resumed at the same time. But just one week after, they contracted skin diseases. When we came to the school, they looked fresh.
“It is not about convincing my parents that I want to stay outside the school but they, on seeing the condition of the hostels, said this could not be a place where their child would stay,” he said.
Audu urged the university to improve on the hostel facilities.
Ade Folarin Fosulu said he paid N100,000 for his off-campus hostel accommodation, adding that it is more comfortable.
“I don’t stay in the school hostel because it is not comfortable. I live in a rented apartment at Pako; we are three and we paid N100,000 each.”
Caleb Oni, a 100 level student of Mass Communication, concerned about hygiene, opted for a N150,000 apartment off campus, which he and three of his colleagues are sharing.
“I don’t fancy hostel. I do not want a situation where I will be pressed and I will not be able to go. Also, another reason is because of the over population in the hostels, and bed bugs. ‘’Four of us paid N150,000 each for two years,’’ he said.
Some YABATECH students living off-campus complained about the long time it took before the management allocated bed spaces to them.They said one semester had gone before they got spaces in the hostels. While they waited, some lived rough – sleeping in classrooms or other spaces; those who could not opted for off campus.
Uche Janet, a Higher National Diploma (HND) II student, said some students refused to take hostel spaces because they had only one semester left.
“It took a long time for the school management to allocate the hostels. And when this was done, the students didn’t really accept the offers because a semester was gone and they thought it was a waste of money to pay.
‘’Some had already got accommodation. I come from Ojota every day and I spend at least N500. It is not comfortable for me. I had to make do with this arrangement. This is so because the facilities in the hostel are dilapidated; the toilets are bad. This is beside the food problem,” she said.
A student (names withheld) said the delay in allocating hostel spaces made students sleep in classrooms.
“People that paid for hostel paid for this semester only because they did not open the hostel when school resumed. They opened it in second semester and people were sleeping in classrooms or anywhere they liked because they had not got accommodation. I live in Fadeyi. We are four in the room and we paid N35,000 each,” he said.
Grace, a Computer Science student, said she suffered inconvenience commuting from her home in Mile 2 to Yaba everyday but preferred it to the inconvenience of living on campus.
“I won’t be able to cook in the hostel; I cannot stay in the hostel and be buying food and yet they lock down the reasonable food vendor. I do not know their reason. Those staying in the hostel are still going outside (campus) to look for places to buy food because those places are cheaper than the other food vendor in the hostel. I spend N600 or close to N1,000 as transport fare from Mile 2. At times I come to lectures late but I cannot stay in the hostel because of the circumstances around it,” she said.
Refuting claims by UNILAG students that they were exposed to infection in the hostels, the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the University does not joke with the health issues.
“The University does not joke with the health issues. Once a student is sick, even by 12am, the emergency services is always on ground,” he said.
On the issue of overcrowding, Ogundipe said it was the students who accommodated squatters in the hostels.
“It is the students that always bring in people and once we try to send them out, they are not happy about it,” he said.
Speaking on having to spend money on repairs in the hostel, Ogundipe said students were supposed to report to the management to carry out repairs and not spend their own money.
“It is them that want to spend money. They are to report to their hall mistress and if the hall mistress does not answer; they should tell the Dean, Students’ Affairs.
“A student messaged me on Whatsapp about an issue and I forwarded it to the DSA and it was solved. My number is everywhere; students can reach me on WhatsApp and I will answer,” he said.
Reacting to the claims by YABATECH students that hostels were not allocated on time, Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr Joseph Ejiofor, said the allocation was not done because of renovations on the hostels.
“It was because of the renovation that delayed the allocation of rooms. It does not happen normally. The rector being a father saw that the former hostels were not good enough so decided to renovate it,” he said.
Ejiofor added that the rule about no cooking stands. He said students’ carelessness caused the fire.
“The burnt hostel was as a result of their carelessness. Every school has its rules and that’s our school’s own. That is why they have provided a café and restaurant for them to purchase food from. They have to take precautions and that is their precaution,” he said.
However, Ejiofor noted that the institution had provided more hostel space which would be allocated from next session.
“Then there are two newly renovated hostels with new bunk beds and mattresses. So there is accommodation readily available for everyone. The hostels were not allocated because it was already late. They would be allocated from next session,” he said.
However, the students complained that at N40,000, the new hostels were too expensive.