Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
CONSTRUCTION work at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) that had stalled for almost two decades is set to resume after Government allocated $1 billion to the institution of higher learning for infrastructure development.
Nust is supposed to have 27 buildings but only seven have been completed and some buildings are now dilapidated.
Over the years, abandoned towering cranes had become synonymous with the university as construction long ceased.
In 2016, the university’s former vice chancellor and late national hero Professor Phineas Makhurane who died in 2018 urged Government to avail funds to Nust saying the university had not developed since he left in 2004.
Nust is mandated to produce graduates biased towards science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) but due in part to lack of proper infrastructure the institution has been recruiting more commercial oriented students, betraying its core mandate.
However, that is set to change as the Second Republic has committed funds to complete some of the outstanding projects at the university.
Work on the university’s giant library and shopping complex is expected to commence soon following allocations made in the 2022 budget.
From $5,2 billion that Treasury allocated to 11 State universities, Nust received the highest amount, $1 billion.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said Nust should start undertaking the projects.
“We are moving a lot in terms of infrastructure development and one of the issues is that we are in the process of giving it (Nust) resources for finishing off outstanding buildings. At Nust we have construction works which stalled a very long time ago,” said Prof Murwira.
“We have allocated $500 million for the construction of a Students Service Centre and another $500 million for the library which means Nust has got $1 billion for the construction project.”
He said Government made a deliberate step to allocate more funds to Nust as part of ongoing infrastructural developments at universities. “It is very intentional (to provide Nust with the highest budget allocation). Because of contract arguments and so forth Nust building construction had stalled for years. But we are putting that aside and going ahead with a different model. In other words, the university is going to be the main contractor,” said Prof Murwira.
He said in line with a 2018 Cabinet resolution, universities will no longer need to contract external parties to undertake construction work but will use available resources.
“And so, the departments of Estates and Engineering are going to be the main contractor. That is a new approach which was approved for us by Cabinet in May 2018. We are continuing with that model and that model will enable us to finish our buildings. We are taking over the buildings ourselves,” he said.
“Our Engineering and Estates department becomes the main contractor and if any one comes then they come for a piece job. We believe using this approach, we will be able to do a lot and we can do more because the demand for infrastructure is very huge.”
Government has also lined up several infrastructural development projects in Matabeleland region including the construction of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani.
Next month contractors are expected to start laying the 245km Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline.
The project is expected to solve Bulawayo’s perennial water problems while irrigation projects will be established to contribute to national food security.
Government is also constructing Lupane Provincial Hospital and the Government Complex in Lupane as it works to bring services closer to the people.
At Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central Hospital, construction of doctors’ quarters is underway.–@nqotshili.
Article Source: The Chronicle