Nust students centre nears completion

The Chronicle

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter

THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) students’ service centre is nearing completion with the structure set to be finished before year-end after the university roped in artisans from the Bulawayo Polytechnic College to work on the project.

At the beginning of the year, Government allocated $500 million for the construction of students’ service centre and another $500 million for the library. 

The latest development is in line with Government policy to harness in-house skills in terms of infrastructure development within the higher and tertiary sector.

The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development made a resolution to stop hiring external contractors for construction projects within the ministry.

The construction of the students’ service centre had stalled for years due to contractual issues with external contractors.

Government has since adopted a new model for the construction of universities and colleges with the tertiary institutions now in charge of their construction projects. 

Under that model, universities must not engage external contractors to build their infrastructure. It is the responsibility of the institutions’ estates and engineering departments.

The new thrust aligns with Education 5.0, adopted by the Government since 2018 to steer institutions of higher learning to produce goods and services.

When a Chronicle news crew visited Nust, several teams were busy working at the site of the university’s students service centre.

Unlike in the past few years when abandoned tower cranes hung rusting away above the incomplete structures, there is now progress on ground with artisans among them brick layers, welders and electricians busy working on the outstanding project. Construction work at Nust had been stagnant for almost 18 years.

Nust is supposed to have 27 buildings but only seven have been completed and some buildings are now dilapidated. However, just like other projects in Matabeleland region that have been neglected for years, the Second Republic has committed resources towards completing them.

In an interview, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the students services centre building will be completed by December.

“The students services centre at the Nust is now 80 percent complete. We have used a different way of building it after we got rid of direct contractors.

“Nust’s department of works and estates is spearheading the project with the Bulawayo Polytechnic doing balustrades. They are doing all the balustrades of that area,” said Prof Murwira.

He said Industrial Training and Trade Testing Department apprentices have also been brought to the ground to work on the structure. 

“We expect all being equal, the structure should be completed before the end of the year. It is a massive building and after we finish that we will start with the library. We are happy with the progress that we are actually making,” he said.

Prof Murwira said the ministry is harnessing skills from some of the students who are at advanced stages of completing their courses.

He said implementation and experience will lead to perfection of skills.

Perfection comes from practice and we expect that all the colleges that we are now building in Plumtree, Binga, Hwange and Chivi are going to be constructed by students who are still training including those who have finished,” said Prof Murwira.

Professor Amon Murwira

“They are being done by youths and people that we ask through the skills outreach programme. We also have people from the villages, say if you want to be a brick layer and at the end of the day, we will trade test you and you will have a certificate.”

Prof Murwira said by harnessing local skills within the ministry, they are implementing President Mnangagwa’s philosophy that a nation is built by its citizens. 

He said the adoption of Education 5.0 was aimed at producing students who solve national problems with the higher and tertiary institutions involved in national projects proving that skills learning is key to the development of Zimbabwe.

“A country is built based on skills so we are using this approach and when we were talking about it in 2018, it sounded very theoretical. It was as if we were dreaming, but we are now building that dream bit by bit,” said the minister.

Prof Murwira said universities and colleges rose to the challenge following the outbreak of Covid-19 when they manufactured sanitisers leading to import substitution. 

He said the same approach has been adopted in the construction of Nust among other institutions under construction. 

Nust Pro-Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Business Development) Engineer William Goriwondo said the concept is more cost-efficient and helps in terms of skills enhancement in infrastructural development.

“It has cost implications and as Nust, we are working as the main contractor then we subcontract whatever we cannot do, and that is how we ended up identifying Bulawayo Polytechnic,” he said.

“We also engaged the Trade Testing Department who work on some of the projects that we can do for ourselves. We have identified part of the work that needs to be done and Bulawayo Polytechnic is doing it.”

Dr Goriwondo said roping in the Bulawayo Polytechnic also serves as part of training the students and exposing them to the industrial realities.

Bulawayo Polytechnic students fabricating balustrades at the National University of Science and Technology students’ service centre on Friday

“The engagement is like a feedback process to say, yes, we have trained students, they have acquired a skill and then we test the skill so that we address any shortfalls. This is the kind of education that is being stressed by Government through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development,” he said. – @nqotshili

Article Source: The Chronicle

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