Chepkoilel University College in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County has been closed indefinitely following the extended lecturer’s strike over allowances.
Droves of students could be seen carrying their suitcases outside the school midday Friday to beat the afternoon deadline spelt out be the administration to vacate the institution.
The Principal of the College Prof. Elijah Biama said he undertook the decision after consulting with various stakeholders on the best way forward.
Professor Biama said he had extensive discussions with the college’s management and academic board committees aside from consulting with the Ministry of Higher Education and the Chairman of the Vice Chancellors Committees.
“It became imminent that that we eventually had to take the decision since the striking members of UASU and UTENSU unions hard taken hardline stance, vowing not to stop unless by official communication from their national office,” he said
Biama said the administration was caught in between since the students had started becoming apprehensive seeking the way forward whereas the striking members had on Thursday staged an affront on their colleagues that were defying the strike.
“Our employees are satisfied with the with the allowances were offered them, their grievances concern the their basic salary and house allowance that are negotiated on their behalf by the IPCCF at national level ,” he stated.
He said IPCCF, the Inter-Public University Councils Consultative Forum negotiates salaries and house allowances on behalf of University Academic Staff Union (UASU) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals Association (KUDHEIHA) members which is the bond of contention.
“It was paramount to take the decision since monies disbursed to students by the Higher Education Loans Board must be accounted for based on learning hours and yet the students were not being taught,” he said.
Biama said that even though the students were not being taught he had ensured they received the basic minimum services like health and continuous operation of the library.
“We however agreed with the students governing council that the students leave the premise by evening and not through forceful evictions as long as they maintained peace and order,” the principal revealed.
Interventions by the Parliamentary Committee on Education was unable to mediate the negotiation process after some key members of the government including the Finance Minister failed to appear before it.
Biama revealed that although university vice chancellors and college principals had a Thursday engagement with the Senior Ministry officials it appears the decisions arrived at were overridden by the cabinet’s decision that resolved the formation of a sub-committee to dispense the matter.
KUDHEIHA and UASU members were earlier on given an offer by the government which they turned down prompting the government to seek a court order stopping the strike action that it terms illegal but the union have since defied it arguing it violates their constitutional freedom.