My response to Ngati’s claim

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DEAR EDITOR, first I wish to request that you do not confuse your readers and the general public by keep referring to Reginald Ngati and his group as the President and executive of SINUSA.

In case you do not get what I said earlier, the SINUSA election held on October 31, 2017 in which Reginald Ngati’s Executive was voted in was declared Null and Void. This simply means Reginald Ngati does not have the mandate to remain as the President of SINUSA and his group to command the leadership of SINUSA as of February 21, 2018.

Whilst I fully acknowledge the concerns raised by Reginald Ngati on the need to improve the on campus living and learning environment at SINU to his expectations, I am at the same time surprised that he failed to also acknowledge the vast improvements that have taken place over the past five years since SINU attained its university status. These include the current and planned academic and physical infrastructure developments at SINU’s three campuses. I invite your readers to come and see for themselves.

If Ngati and his group failed to see these changes then either they are still in their sleep or are just too proud and ignorant to acknowledge these. It would be unfair on the part of Reginald Ngati and his group to say that we have not done anything about the hostels, kitchen and even the student services in the past three years. For information of your readers, I have provided below what has been achieved/done over the past three years for the students at SINU.

We have Refurbished the Institute of Maritime hostels at Ranadi Campus, renovated 5 boys hostels (P2-08, P2-09, P2-10, P2-11 & P2-12), Girl’s Hostels P2-17 all at Panatina Campus. Tenders for Girl’s Hostels (P2-03, P2-04, P2-05 & P2-06) at Panatina Campus are due and in fact Property Section is continuing with Minor Repair & maintenance works. We also have done works to Boys Hostels & Girls Hostels at Kukum Campus up to 2017. Due to SIG financial Cash flow towards end of 2017, no further planned works were carried out as we were advised by our Finance Department not to start any new works due to the cash flow problem. This includes works to the Kitchens at Kukum and Panatina Campuses. Our main issue with these repairs and maintenance work is that most of the buildings dated back to HTI/SITC and SICHE days and so renovating them can be a challenge. Also, these hostels have deteriorated due to ‘no care’ attitude by the students themselves.

The design of the student Centre Complex at Kukum Campus was completed in 2017. We were hoping to put out the Tender for Construction in the first quarter of 2018 but did not proceed as the balance of funds from the 2017 SIG Development grants are yet to be released to us. This proposed Students Centre Complex when completed will house the Students Welfare Office and the day students’ common room and other ICT and photocopying facilities and amenities for students’ use.

The designs for the extension of the Kukum Library has been completed and is awaiting tender for construction/availability of funds. Once completed, it will enhance more space for students comfort in the library.

We are not aware of any complaints about the water quality and students have been having access to running water.

We have constructed a student ablution block for day students at Panatina Campus between room 9 & 10 in 2017. We have also arranged for the construction of a students’ ablution block attached to the Panatina Library in 2017. This is also already completed and is ready for students’ use.

Amongst the on-going projects at SINU are the Panatina Complex currently being constructed at Panatina Campus and the School of Natural Resources and Applied Sciences (SNRAS) building complex at Kukum Campus. These building projects when completed will not only increase the intake/acess to SINU but will also contribute to providing a conducive teaching and learning environment at these university campuses.

We are currently engaging an architect to design the refurbishment of the X-SMITRI (Malaria Lab) building at the eastern end of the Kukum Campus which is currently an ‘eye sore’. This building when completed will provide extra facilities for the School of Nursing and Allied Health Studies (SNAHS). Again tender for construction is pending availability of funds.

To ensure security of staff, students and visitors to the university, we have installed street lightings at parts of Kukum Campus and Panatina Campus and this work is still ongoing and should be fully completed this year 2018.

Also, the fencing of the Kukum and Panatina Campus boundaries are still in progress despite the challenge of having to deal with fellow citizens who encroached and squatter along the university borders.

Work on the fencing of part of the Ranadi Campus is completed. Work on the entrance, access road and car park and security lights at the Ranandi campus is progressing and will be completed soon.

With regards to the issue of access to ICT facilities for students, SINU has at Kukum Campus one students’ general computer lab (67 PCs) opened to all students of SINU. It opens 7.00 am – 8.00 pm Monday – Friday, inclusive.

In addition, we have students’ computer labs in schools: 2 x SBM (30 PCs each), 2 x STMS (10 + 15 PCs), 1 x Nursing (17 PCs), 1 x ITH (9 PCs), 1 (old) x SNRAS (new lab with 40 PCs soon to be installed – waiting for room), 1 x Fisheries (30 PCs) and 1 x SOEH (30 PCs). Further, 100 PCs earmarked (in store) for Panatina general lab awaiting room to be ready.

A policy on internet quota system for all staff and students is awaiting approval from the Council before it can be implemented.

In addition, SINU provides free students’ email and internet services for all registered students.

We would like to say that most works are ongoing and in 2018, we will facilitate the designs for new Students Hostels and other student requested facilities including students sporting facilities, such as gym, basketball and tennis courts etc.

Lest Ngati and his group forget, there is a limit to what we can achieve given that SINU is solely dependent on the annual SIG grants and Development Budgets for its academic programmes and infrastructure developments.

Otherwise, if they are so concerned about the issues raised in their strike notice, why didn’t they first raise them with the Managers responsible for the university Properties, ICT and student’s welfare or even raise the issues directly with me?

Issuing strike notice for boycott of classes will not achieve anything and is counterproductive. If students go on strike, their lecturers will still receive their pay regardless. It is the students themselves that will suffer by missing out on their classes and on their chances of education at SINU.

Donald Malasa

Pro Vice-Chancellor [Corporate]

Solomon Islands National University

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