A private court bailiff has given the University of Kibungo (UNIK) 24 hours to pay employees fired by the institution or its property will be auctioned.
Some 12 employees dragged the private university to court after they spent more than 6 months without payment. In addition, instead of paying their salaries, the institution dismissed them all.
In total court awarded this batch of affected former employees Rwf 45m (US$ 49,300).
However, they are not alone. There other 8 employees who were dismissed by the university without their severance packages. In total, court determined that they were supposed to be paid Rwf 150m. But these, it was determined that their issue will be handled later.
The vice chancellor of the university Prof Karuranga Gahima Egide in interviews admits that they indeed have to pay the court-ordered payments to the former employees.
“We have indicated to the bailiff that we indeed agree with the debt and will pay it using our property,” said Prof Karuranga.
According to the court bailiff, the court first ordered that the bank accounts of UNIK be frozen so that money from there is paid out to the ex-employees. However, the accounts had no money.
Early this week, the bailiff confiscated a Toyota coaster bus and and Toyota Vigo pickup, which will be auctioned off by end of the week if the university doesn’t pay the debt. If these vehicles do not bring the amount needed, says the bailiff, more property will be grabbed.
UNIK has up to 2,000 private-paying students, but the institution is said to be experiencing crippling financial troubles. It is unable to pay lecturers or maintain the support staff.
According to sources, as the university prepares for start of the academic year this month, students are being provided with a private personal bank account where to deposit their tuition. This action is being taken to prevent the money being taken by the court bailiff if it lands on the university accounts.
Based in Ngoma district, eastern province, UNIK is not alone facing financial problems. The Christian University of Rwanda, located in Kigali, owes its employees more than Rwf 1.5bn in unpaid salaries.
UNIK started as an institute in 2003 called Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Education of Kibungo (INATEK). In March 2016, it changed to the University of Kibungo (UNIK).
UNIK is one of about a dozen private universities in the country. All 7 government-owned universities were merged in 2013 into a single University of Rwanda (UR), and it gets more than Rwf34b budget annually from the taxpayer.