Makerere University students yesterday staged two separate demonstrations against water shortage and the higher dollar rate charged on fees for foreign students.
The protest, mainly by Kenyan students, was organised under the Makerere University Kenyan Students Association (MUKESA).
The students rejected the new rate of sh2,020 per dollar charged by the university, yet on admission, Makerere had agreed on the then market rate of sh1,720.
The university has 4,265 foreign students, after the admission of 1,110 students this academic year.
Dressed in their undergraduate gowns, the students, closely monitored by the Police, gathered at 11:00am in front of the Main Building that houses the offices of the vice-chancellor and the dean of students. They demanded to see the two senior officials.
In a letter of Wednesday, October 28, the students asked the university secretary, Sam Akorimo, to resolve the matter.
But in his reply letter of October 29, Akorimo said the accountant general insisted that the students had to pay their fees at the current dollar rate.
Yesterday, the rate on the open market was sh1,860 per dollar.
Erastus Njeru, the MUKESA president, said the university was unfair and vowed to agitate for the original exchange rate.
â€œWe should not be sidelined simply because we are foreign students. When we were joining this university, it was agreed by all parties that we had to pay our fees at the exchange rate of sh1,720. That is what our parents back in Kenya know,â€ Njeru said.
John Ekudu, the dean of students, assured the protestors that their concerns would be addressed in a meeting with the new vice-chancellor, Professor Venansius Baryamureeba.
â€œI will make arrangements for you to meet with the vice-chancellor next Wednesday to discuss your concerns,â€ Ekudu told the irate students, who calmed down.
Earlier in the day, students from different halls of residence protested against lack of water.
The strike began at 7:00am when a group of students from Mitchell Hall, dressed in their undergraduate gowns, blocked the adjoining roads with logs.
But the Police quickly deployed, unblocked the roads and the situation returned to normal
However, the university administration swiftly averted the situation from escalating by delivering water by trucks to all the halls of residence.
Mitchell Hall, which sparked off the strike, was the first to get water.
A university water tanker, with a capacity of 10,000 litres, delivered the water and the students immediately calmed down.
On all noticeboards of the nine halls of residence, Ekudu had asked the university community to prepare for a water shortage, and store enough water for three days.
This followed an announcement from the National Water and Sewerage Corporation that the water supply to Kampala would be cut off from October 28 to 30 to enable repairs at the Gaba water works, the booster station.
Makerere students strike over fees, water