Bulawayo students’ complex eases accommodation woes I&DBZ board members and partners are taken on a tour of the Bulawayo Students Accommodation Complex near Nust by Bulawayo Manager, Mr Sackson Makwasha (left) yesterday. Picture Eliah Saushoma

Nqobile Tshili ,[email protected]

THE newly constructed Bulawayo Students Accommodation Complex (BSAC) in Selbourne Park has transformed the living conditions for students at Nust and other tertiary institutions.

The US$15,6 million complex, built by the Infrastructure and Development Bank of Zimbabwe (I&DBZ), houses 1 023 students, with 60 percent of the rooms reserved for female students.

Alongside this, the BSAC also boasts commercial facilities, including a food court, grocery shops, bank, pharmacy, and gym to provide students with all the necessary amenities on-site.

Members of the public can access these facilities which are monitored by 24-hour CCTV surveillance to ensure that security is maintained.

Following private sector investment from the Mining Industry Pension Fund, Old Mutual, and Zimnat, the project was completed in April this year.

While currently, 490 students occupy the facility paying US$90 per month, the I&DBZ is optimistic that when universities open for the next semester, more rooms will be filled. Students pay between US$100 to US$150 per month in private houses.

Additionally, the bank plans to transform the accommodation into a multi-purpose facility, offering hospitality services to local guests and travellers during academic breaks.

Nust final year industrial and manufacturing student, Delny Mohai, had this to say about the living conditions. “Compared to renting in private homes, the students’ facility comes with a lot of advantages as it creates a conducive environment for studying,” said Mohai.

“I used to rent in Selbourne Park and Matsheumhlope,  and we were having security challenges, as our property was being stolen.

“But since I moved here, I have not had that problem, as security is fully guaranteed. We also didn’t have internet connection in rented houses, but we now have WiFi connectivity. This complex is a good place for a student and proximity to the campus is good,” he said.

I&DBZ’s chief executive officer, Mr Thomas Zondo-Sakala, also stated that the construction model of the BSAC would be replicated to address the problem of inadequate hostel accommodation across the country’s higher and tertiary institutions.

“This is the first project under our university students and staff accommodation programme. The intention is to help address the challenges affecting students in tertiary institutions throughout the country,” said Mr Zondo-Sakala

“The next stop is Lupane, Kwekwe and the Catholic University in Harare. We are already making efforts to identify partners in Masvingo and Chinhoyi,” he said.

Mr Zondo-Sakala said BSAC houses students from Nust, Hillside Teachers’ College, and Zimbabwe School of Mines and hoped more students would take up residence.

He said beyond the students they want to use the facility to accommodate members of the public who visit Bulawayo when universities are closed.

“There are periods when the students are on holiday and these facilities are available and can be used to accommodate other interest groups,” said Mr Zondo-Sakala.

“For instance, when people come for meetings such as the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair these facilities can be used. In other countries, the experience is that when tourists visit and it is off season in terms of academic year, tourists can be accommodated in these facilities.

“People holding conferences can use the accommodation. So, this is going to become a multi-purpose use,” he said.

Dr Khupukile Mlambo, the IDBZ board chairman, said the BSAC construction model shows the country’s commitment to provide a safe environment and accommodation for students.

“We plan to have these projects across the country. In fact, we have already started in other parts. It has been a good learning experience for us and the data that we have accumulated here will be useful in other places that we will build.

This complex prioritises the safety of the girl child where two blocks will be reserved for the female student and one block for the male student in a ratio of 60:40,” said Dr Mlambo.

He said enhanced security measures such as biometric entrance have been adopted, which will result in officials knowing who is accommodated within the facility.

Dr Mlambo said providing access to the Internet is crucial for the students who require it as they go about with their learning business.

“The facilities are very clean, it is important that students learn in a clean environment, and have WiFi access. For me, this is a success story and we are looking forward to others being built across the country.”

“Our charge to I&DBZ and their partners is that let’s make sure that this place is used to the maximum throughout the year. Probably three months of the year, the facilities will not be occupied by students so we are exploring models from other universities in other countries where they use those facilities when they are free for visitors to use,” said Dr Mlambo.–@nqotshili





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