UFH & DHET launch biggest student accommodation project
Thursday 3rd October 2019 will go down as the most memorable day in the history of the University of Fort Hare.
This is because, on this day, the university launched its R400 million Student Village, Phase 2 student housing project on its Alice campus.
This magnificent event was attended by Mr Gwebs Qonde, Director-General (DG) in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), representatives from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European Union, STAG (the developer), traditional leaders from the Rharhabe Royal House, student leadership representatives, university management and staff.
The development is the result of a partnership between the University of Fort Hare, the DHET, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). It was made possible by R122 million in infrastructure funding provided by DHET and a R28 million European Union-funded direct capital grant made available through the Infrastructure Investment Programme for South Africa (IIPSA).
Once completed, the Student Village will boast 2047 student beds, an addition to the 4800 beds that the university currently provides to students. It will also feature a new student centre and a block dedicated to postgraduates.
The formal launch marked a significant milestone in the 18-month construction project. Keys to the first completed block were also handed-over to the Vice-Chancellor. Delivering the keynote address, the DG said a dedicated team was assigned to execute the project.
“We are proud of the university's achievement to successfully execute the biggest student housing project in the history of all 26 universities in the country.” Qonde said the project will address the lack of student accommodation which was a challenge confronting all higher education institutions in the country.
Professor Lindelwa Majova-Songca, who served as project leader internally, gave a detailed background of the project. She mentioned the challenges faced by the team, but also the joy of having reached this milestone.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu said despite serious bouts of turbulence that the university went through in the past year, including student protests and the dissolution of the university council, the project team managed to pull through. He highlighted the roles played by the CFO (Mr Nielesh Ravjee), Prof Lindelwa Majova-Songca (previous Interim DVC-IS) and Dr Irma du Plessis (Director in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor) and thanked them for their commitment to seeing the project to fruition.
“They worked full speed despite the sideshows that were happening and that speaks to the resilience of this university.”
Messages of support were delivered by SRC President, Mr Alungile Kamtshe as well as by representatives from the EU, DBSA and STAG. The event concluded with a tour of the new student residences.