The Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ)’s US$14.8 million student accommodation project in Bulawayo is now 69% complete and expected to be fully completed in November this year.
In 2016, the state-owned IDBZ initiated the University Students and Staff Accommodation Programme (USSAP) which focuses on the construction of accommodation facilities for students and staff at universities and colleges across the country.
The Bulawayo Students’ Accommodation Project (BSAC), currently under construction at an estimated cost of US$14.8 million, is the first undertaking.
The project is a joint venture between the IDBZ and three institutional investors, namely Old Mutual, ZIMNAT and Motor Industry Pension Fund.
It will ease accommodation challenges faced by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students. “Overally, the project is currently 69% complete and is expected to be fully completed in November 2021, with the operational date set to be the first semester of 2022,” the IDBZ’s chief marketing and public relations officer Priscilla Zvobgo told The NewsHawks.
“As with other construction projects, 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,” she said.
When complete, the facility will cater for 1 023 students occupying a total of 512 double rooms, Zvobgo said, adding 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, she said.
“Planning and land acquisition for the flyover footbridge across the Bulawayo-Gwanda highway is in progress given that the facility is being developed off campus. The bridge will provide for safe crossing of students and members of the public across the busy Gwanda-Bulawayo highway,” she said.
Zvobgo said the USSAP 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.
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.
USSAP involves the construction of both on-campus and off-campus accommodation and support facilities. In phase one of the programme, focus is on Bulawayo, Lupane, Bindura and Chinhoyi, with phase two broadening the intervention to include Harare, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and Kadoma, she said.
“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,” Zvobgo said.
The university student accommodation project is expected to ease accommodation challenges at state universities such as NUST, Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), Chinhoyi University of Technology, Great Zimbabwe University and Lupane State University.
Currently, only 15% of students at state universities have accommodation at the campus halls of residents while the rest rely on lodgings in areas surrounding the universities, according to the government.
The government has made a clarion call to the private sector to participate in the development of infrastructure in the country.