Student housing complex completed, more projects to follow
‘Bulawayo Students’ City’, as it has become known locally, is about 3km away from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) where it will ease the demand for housing. According to the university’s website, only 204 of the institution’s estimated 10,000 students previously had access to on-campus accommodation at the institution.
The past two decades have witnessed increased numbers of students enrolling at tertiary institutions, which has resulted in services and accommodation demands outstripping infrastructure and service capacity, leaving a huge percentage of the student population with no access to on-campus accommodation.
According to the developers, they intend to replicate the model in other parts of the country, starting with Lupane State University, where building designs have already been approved.
“We intend to start the project in Lupane town, followed by Kwekwe, Gwanda; Harare, Bindura and Chinhoyi,” said Thomas Zondo Sakala, chief executive officer of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) – a government-owned development bank, which has been funding the accommodation.
The project has been undertaken under a build-operate-transfer arrangement of IDBZ, spanning 20 years, which will be serviced from rentals paid by students.
The project, first mooted in 2016 under a programme called the University Students and Staff Accommodation Project (USSAP), was initially meant to be completed in November 2019 after construction started in about October 2017.
Readjusted completion schedules for November 2021 and February 2022 were also not met. Sakala said the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions resulted in delays in construction works.
“The project has suffered delays such as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions which resulted in losing 1,5 hours per person daily, shortage of forex for imported materials, shortage of skilled manpower and load-shedding, among other delays,” said Sakala, while touring the NUST student hostels.
The USSAP is a joint venture comprising IDBZ, Old Mutual Life Assurance, Zimnat Life Assurance Company, and the Motor Industry Pension Fund.
During the tour, National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said he appreciated the work being done by IDBZ to deal with student accommodation challenges.
“I appreciate what IDBZ is doing to address the housing challenges. We are happy about the work done by our private sector and the insurance companies. The government is ready to provide affordable learning through the construction of student accommodation,” he said.
According to the Zimbabwe Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, the country currently has 20 universities, 14 teachers’ colleges, eight polytechnics and five industrial training centres, with a combined student population of 152,529 and staff population of 18,153, requiring at least 562 student hostels and 10,836 staff houses.
The current number of students enrolling at universities is estimated to be more than 70,000, with only 15% of students having accommodation at the campus halls of residence.
The government, which is responsible for the funding of universities, has not been able to fund public infrastructure adequately due to budgetary constraints and has encouraged public institutions and the private sector to collaborate in infrastructure developments.