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R 100 mln project to increase bed count

Work on a R100 million construction project aimed at furnishing Walter Sisulu University with 380 beds is set to commence at the institution’s Buffalo City Campus (BCC) in early 2015.

WSU’s Potsdam Site outside East London will house the brand new facility, aimed at increasing the bed count at the University’s campus – which currently stands at 250 on-campus beds.  (Other  off-campus accommodation is provided for students in hired premises in the city)

The first brick is set to be laid barely a couple of months after the last is to be placed on the on-going R40 million Mthatha decant residence which will house 240 students at the Nelson Mandela Drive Site.

A bird’s eyeview

“The final architectural plans for the project have been approved by the University and we’re now currently involved in the procurement processes to find a construction company to best bring to reality what we currently have on paper,” says WSU spokesperson Angela Church.

The Mthatha project, scheduled for completion in January, is funded, together with the BCC project, through the Infrastructure and Efficiency Funding of the Department of Higher Education and Training. WSU submitted a successful bid for this funding in the funding cycle.

September 22 proved a watershed moment for WSU as the institution unveiled the first residence to be built at the University since the merger in 2005 and also the first student residence to be built at the Mthatha Campus since 1976.

Church says the University is working extremely hard to fulfil one of its key deliverables highlighted in the institution’s on-going Turnaround Strategy – to increase accommodation.

Roof wetting ceremony in Mthatha.

“Although WSU does meet the national benchmark of 30% accommodation, clearly we would like to increase this and accommodate more students particularly as many of our students come from rural areas. Our ultimate goal would be to accommodate 50% of our students on campus,” says Church.

Work on the BCC project is scheduled to take 18 months and is expected to be completed in mid to late 2016.

Church said the milestone accomplished with these new residences was a significant symbol of WSU’s on-going transformation.

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