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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Solomon Students at UNITECH Lae study in the dark after power cut due to unpaid bills by the university

By Peter Korugl

Solomon Islands students at the University of Technology (UNITECH) in Lae are believed to be also affected after PNG Power Limited has cut the power supply to the Papua New Guinea University of Technology due to unpaid electricity bills, preventing students from having access to vital facilities for their studies.

According to the National Newspaper website, the power supplier opted to take the drastic action after the university failed to settle outstanding bills totalling K600,000 incurred this year.

The power disconnection only came to light yesterday when frustrated students, claiming they were unable to study properly, called a forum and demanded the administration to explain why the bills were not settled and when the problem would be rectified.

According to staff and students on the Taraka campus in Lae, Morobe province, the power disconnection affected the library, lecture rooms and other academic facilities as well as communication between the university and the outside world.

“Students cannot study because the library, laboratories and classrooms are without power,” a senior electrical engineering student said, adding that the main server was out. We are unable to communicate with the outside world because our telephones and internet service are out as well due to the power situation.”

One of the academic facilities affected was the Mining Engineering Department’s laboratory. Staff at the laboratory said they could not carry out tests and analyse rock samples sent in from the Hidden Valley and Wafi gold projects because the laboratory was without power.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Wilson Tovirika told the students that the university was unable to settle the electricity bills because it had no money.

“If we settle the debt, we would not have enough money to run the university for the rest of the academic year,” he said.

Mr Tovirika said over K2 million the university had to pay for the electricity was used to rehabilitate staff houses and academic infrastructure this year.

Registrar Allan Sako told the students that some money was paid to PNG Power already and power should have been reconnected yesterday. Mr Sako and Mr Tovirika said the university paid K230,000 two weeks ago to PNG Power and another K253,000 was paid yesterday and PNG Power gave its assurance that it would reconnect the power supply.

Source: The National

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