Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
CONSTRUCTION of the US$14.8 million upmarket accommodation facility to house more than 1 000 students in Bulawayo by the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) has gathered pace with 69 percent complete and is expected to be completed by November 2021.
Responding to questions from Sunday Business, IDBZ chief executive officer, Mr Thomas Zondo Sakala said the Bulawayo Students Accommodation Project (BSAC), which is under construction at an estimated cost of US$14.8 million was at 69 percent complete and is expected to be fully completed in November 2021.
“The project is being undertaken through a joint venture between the IDBZ and three institutional investors, namely Old Mutual, Zimnat and Motor Industry Pension Fund. Overally, the project is currently 69 percent complete and is expected to be fully completed in November 2021, with the operational date set to be the first semester of 2022,” said Mr Sakala.
He also noted that the project has been negatively affected by disruptions in work and supply chains as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant national lockdowns. Mr Sakala said the hostels are designed for 1 032 students occupying a total of 516 double rooms. Block B1 has 252 double rooms for females. Block B2 has 96 double rooms for males as well as Block B3, which will have 168 double rooms starting from the first floor upwards. The rooms are designed to carry two students each. Ablution facilities are communal with showers only.
There will be a main restaurant with a capacity of 400 students at a time, a laundromat and a supermarket in Block B1. Block B2 will have shops and a banking hall. Block B3 will house 12 small shops and four offices. Commercial facilities such as shops, gym, pharmacy and other commercial space will be open to the general public and it will offer accommodation to students at tertiary institutions in Bulawayo.
“The complex will also offer a commercial centre comprising a food court and fast-food outlets, grocery shops, gym, bookshop, bank, pharmacy, laundromat and a supermarket. The commercial facilities will be open to the general public.”
Mr Sakala also noted that planning and land acquisition for the flyover footbridge across the Bulawayo-Gwanda highway was in progress given that the facility is being developed off-campus (from the National University of Science and Technology). He said the bridge will provide for safe crossing of students and members of the public across the busy Gwanda -Bulawayo highway.
Mr Sakala added that other projects under the University Students and Staff Accommodation Programme (USSAP) conceived and initiated by IDBZ in 2016 were being done in two phases throughout the country.
“In phase 1 of the programme, focus is on Bulawayo, Lupane, Bindura, Catholic University of Zimbabwe (CUZ) and Chinhoyi, with phase 2 broadening the intervention to include Harare, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and Kadoma.
“For off-campus facilities, the model involves procurement of land by the IDBZ for this purpose, as was the case in Bulawayo and Lupane. On-campus facilities will require the respective institutions to carve out land to facilitate ring-fencing of the projects in order to meet the requirements of investors,” he said.
Mr Sakala highlighted that the Government of Zimbabwe has made a clarion call to the private sector to participate in the development of infrastructure in the country.
“For USSAP, the IDBZ plays a catalytic role through providing technical and financial support towards project preparation and structuring, and then crowding in private sector investors to support project implementation through Joint Venture arrangements.”
In 2016, IDBZ or the bank conceived and initiated a programme called the University Students and Staff Accommodation Programme (USSAP) which focused on the construction of accommodation facilities for students and staff at universities and other tertiary institutions across the country.
This programme is a critical intervention in complementing Government efforts towards alleviating the plight of students and staff by providing secure and affordable accommodation facilities which are conducive for effective teaching and learning.
Meanwhile, according to the 2021 National Budget Statement, the 2021 Budget has a provision of ZWL$ 14.4 billion for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development of which ZWL$4.3 billion is for infrastructure development.
The 2021 Budget will also prioritise education infrastructure provision in the form of building of student accommodation and setting up of innovation hubs at universities. Priority will be given towards the construction works at Industrial Parks in Harare, the University of Zimbabwe Farm and Chinhoyi University of Technology.