Council members of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) braved the rain and visited the Midlands and Durban Campuses on Saturday, 21 May 2022 to discuss and assess the developments of building the state-of-the-art infrastructure that aligns with the ENVISION2030. The visit comes after the Council approved the R1 billion infrastructure roll out programme project in 2019.
The esteemed guests were DUT Midlands Campus Director: Dr Joe Molete, Advisor and Executive: Institutional Review Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Theophilus Andrew, Professor Sibiya, Council Chairperson Mr Wiseman Madinane, Founder of PGA Architect: Mr Prakasen Govender, Mr Khulekani Shabalala, Acting Senior Director: Real Estate Management Project Manager: Physical Planning at DUT, Council members and DUT staff members.
The visit commenced with the welcome and opening remarks from Prof Andrew who thanked everyone that managed to avail themselves and attended the meeting. He went on to say that he is looking forward to the presentation and idea contributions from the Council members.
“I hope that this visit will assist us to see the progress and be able to see the vision come into reality. It will be very important for everyone to share their views and ideas where necessary as this will give a positive way forward. I urge everyone to take this meeting seriously and also not to share confidential information,” he said.
Dr Joe Molete presented on the different projects within the two Midlands campuses which included the
Indumiso Campus Engineering Complex, Imbali Lodge Transaction, Science and Industrial Park, Innovation and Entrepreneurship model and other important projects that will contribute to the success of the programme.
“I am happy with the current developments and foresee them to bring a lot of opportunities for our students as they deserve a brighter future. The ENVISION2030 strategy has greater plans and if applied appropriately it will bring a better life for the institution as well as the country as a whole,” stated Dr Molete.
PGA Architect’s, Mr Govender presented on the 2019 Council Approved Phase 1 Infrastructure programme. In his presentation, he highlighted that the new infrastructure will definitely change the face of DUT. He went on to present the projects overview which includes the renovations of the Administration block, Innovation Hub, Health Sciences lecture venues, the residences in both Durban and Midlands campuses and many more.
The presentation was followed by the site walkabout. The tour started at Indumiso phase 1: Engineering labs, then proceeded to phase 2: Construction of the New Engineering Building and Lecture venues and ended with the viewing of Imbali Lodge Hostels.
Despite the heavy rain, the Council members proceeded to the Steve Biko campus in Durban and visited the construction site on campus to monitor the progress of the buildings.
Giving more insight on the visit, Mr Khulekani Shabalala, Project Manager: Physical Planning at DUT said: “The Council visit was to play an oversight role, to check on the progress of the infrastructure programme that we rolled out. In 2019, the Council approved the R1 billion infrastructure rollout. Basically, it was just to check progress. This visit had previously been cancelled two times, that is why we had to brave the storm today, to check progress and to present challenges that we have. Overall it was a good day, the Council had a good sense of the work we are doing and the challenges we have. We are hopeful that they will turn the corner, in line with the ENVISION2030.”
Shabalala further explained that the project is in two folds, the deferred maintenance and the construction of the new buildings such as the Administration building, Innovation Hub, Health Sciences and lecture venues. We are currently busy with the construction of the phase two Engineering building at the Indumiso campus in Pietermaritzburg and the Lecture venues. Shabalala said the Engineering building should be completed in July/August 2022 to allow for the intake of 2023. In Steve Biko campus, he said the Student Centre and the parkade should be completed in August/September 2022. Once complete the projects will create new spaces for support structure organizations, new student offices, student entertainment and recreational areas. New retail food court providing food choices for students.
Speaking about the challenges, Shabalala said it is a nature of the construction to have delays but their role is to manage risks, the construction programme and minimise their impact on the programme.
“We did face challenges of COVID-19, the unrests and the global market and that affected cost of materials including the price of steel. Projects were delayed but we are completing them end of this year. We had anticipated that we will complete them in 2021 but we are completing them end of this year,” added Shabalala.
He assured the DUT community that they will be impressed when they see the final projects, we want to give meaning to “State of the Art” concept , saying they must expect to see the building that are functional, that will allow for innovation, brilliance and creativity. He said they are trying to build a community where the people will have that feeling of belonging.
In closing, Mr Madinane thanked the Council members for availing themselves for the visit and for committing to changing the look of DUT.
“The new management under Prof Thandwa Mthembu said we want a DUT that looks like a university and not as a college or technikon. We can see the progress. As Council, we are pleased and relieved the billion rand is definitely going to concrete, blocks and skills. It is very good and one thing I observed is that there are young black women and men behind this project. Well done to Khulekani and the team, you are doing a fantastic job and please don’t let us down. We have had many debates about this and finally, we are united behind this project. The country only goes forward when we keep on building things and putting people in jobs, especially now when the economy is under severe pressure,” said Madinane.
He expressed that he was happy that the Council committed to the site visits and braved the rain. He said as Mr Singh, DUT Chair of Finance noted that the Council will remember the rainy day when they got wet doing their duties, when the buildings are opened and standing tall. Madinane also thanked Prof Andrew for stepping in, in the absence of Prof Mthembu who was on a working visit to Germany. Gratitude was also expressed to the Student Representative Council who also attend the visit and other members of staff who ensured that the visit was a success.
Pictured: DUT Council braved the rain to assess progress of the infrastructure project.
Zanele Mashaba and Simangele Zuma