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Slow progress of Nust projects

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2024 at 16:43hrs | Views
THE Government has raised concern over the slow pace that the administration at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo is taking in completing key development projects, saying there is a glaring misalignment with the Second Republic's expectations.

The concern comes amid revelations that the university has failed to utilise a farm it was allocated 11 years ago and has taken over a year to construct fowl runs.

This emerged during a tour of some of the university's projects by the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Cde Simelisizwe Sibanda who expressed dissatisfaction at the pace the university was moving in completing its development projects.

He said Nust should pick up pace and do what other universities were doing.

Deputy Minister Sibanda visited the university's farm located about 40km from Bulawayo, along Solusi Road, a factory which they are operating at their main campus, Ekusileni Hospital and the Professor Makhurane Innovation Centre which is under construction.

Speaking after the tour, the Deputy Minister said his visit was part of a nationwide tour where they were looking at projects that higher learning institutions were carrying out, mainly those projects funded through public service including the income-generating projects that they have.

He said as a ministry, they were encouraging universities not to rely on the two traditional revenue streams — the fees and the Government grants but to venture into other income streams through innovation.

"Our position as Government is that our higher learning institutions have a key role to play in terms of the development of our economy and also in terms of coming up with graduates who become job creators.

"All this starts at the universities, for example at Nust we expect to have an agric-industrial park within their farm, where they must be producing. When you look at their farm and the soils that are there we expect them to venture into livestock production which would help in terms of developing the institution and also have an impact on the market. We expect to see them even entering into Memorandums of Understanding with some industries in Bulawayo," said the Deputy Minister.

He expressed disappointment at the failure of the university to utilise the farm's full potential in developing both Nust and the nation as a whole.

"The idea of turning the Nust farm into an agric-industrial park is there but it is the implementation that is worrying. My concern is that they were offered that farm in 2013 but now 11 years after there is nothing much that has been done.

"In my engagement, with the authorities, I encouraged them to do something about their pace. We agreed also on the timelines, where we said by the end of May they should have completed the fowl runs that they are working on, which have taken over a year, which is a cause for concern," said Deputy Minister Sibanda.

"If you check with other universities, the youngest universities like the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences, they now have a farm and are doing a great job there, what can stop Nust from doing that. I think we need to monitor them seriously to make sure that they move with speed in terms of implementing what the ministry expects in terms of industrial hubs."

The Deputy Minister, however, expressed satisfaction with some of the developments at Nust saying it was encouraging to see the Professor Makhurane Innovation Centre which was 80 percent complete.

"The Professor Makhurane Innovation Centre had been moving at a snail's pace but over the past four years or so there has been considerable progress and it is now at 80 percent completion and we are happy about that.

"They are now moving on to the library which has also been idle for a long time, if you remember Nust now had a common feature in the form of that crane, which was always there, that crane has since moved away and we are now using our institutions like Masvingo Polytechnic, which is involved in the construction works there," he said.

Deputy Minister Sibanda also revealed that the university was also constructing industrial shells from a 2000-square metre floor area, with expectations that by the end of May, they would have completed the foundation and by October the shells would be completed because the materials have already been procured.

Source - sundaynews