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Unam in N$340m new offices deal

The University of Namibia has awarded a N$340 million contract to build a new administration block at the main campus in Windhoek to businessman Vaino Nghipondoka.

Nghipondoka confirmed to The Namibian on Wednesday that his company had won the tender worth around N$340 million.

His BabyFace Civils is in partnership with China Jiangxi International Namibia in this contract.

Unam's spokesperson John Haufiku said they expect the new administration building to be completed in April 2019 since the construction started around June this year.

According to him, the new building consists of three new office blocks to cater for, among others, a chamber for Unam's governing council to host council and possibly senate members.

“This project is registered with the National Planning Commission, and thus supported by government. It has gone through various processes to determine if it is necessary. So, this is not a Unam project, but a national project,” Haufiku said.

The spokesperson added that the new administration building is part of a larger strategic plan by the university to provide better efficiency, and it's not a spur of the moment project.

“So yes, it is a big necessity. Currently, all 12 campuses are supported by one administrative department – the one at the main campus. The administrative demands are mammoth, and space to deliver is limited. Due to the growth the university has experienced in the last decade, it has also had to expand in terms of infrastructure,” he noted.

According to Haufiku, such strategic expansions first began with academic space (lecture halls), which are ongoing. Now, for the first time, they are looking at administrative space.

“The reason is simple, as students become more, so does academic staff.

This has consequences on administration and management. You cannot increase students, and not increase academic staff, or the admin staff who support academics”, Haufiku stated.

He said work on the new administration building includes renovating the current building, which has been tagged as one of the top 10 risks at the university by auditors since critical information needs backing up, and space for storage and archiving is running out.

“In addition, council and senate members have to use venues meant for academic activities to hold their meetings, which is not conducive, and steals space from senior students and academic staff. This new building will free up space in faculties currently being shared,” he added.

Unam sources said the university has spent around N$1,2 billion on constructing buildings, which includes partly funding the construction of the School of Medicine in Windhoek, which is largely funded by foreign donors.

News about the new N$340 million building which is described by some as a “nice to have” investment comes at a time when the university is reportedly on the verge of increasing its tuition fees.

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