Plan for R3bn WSU campus in Komani
A R3-BILLION project will see a fully fledged Walter Sisulu University (WSU) campus being developed in Komani, with work to start next year.
WSU head of department of finance and management in Komani, Patrick Bwowe, set out details of the project – which is anticipated to generate economic activity in the area – during the Border-Kei Chamber of Business networking session at the Queens Casino and Hotel.
He said the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) had donated 26ha of land between the Komani Hospital and the Caltex garage on the N6 towards East London.
“We want to make sure students do not move away to study as far away as Cape Town. We want to bring something that will be of great relevance and value for them in Komani.”
He said the vision of the institution was moving towards programmes that would keep students in the town, instead of leaving for other cities or provinces.
The local campus had shown growth in student numbers and by 2021, WSU wanted to accommodate 5000 students in Komani and a further 1 000 in Whittlesea.
Komani WSU rector professor McGlory Speckman said: “We have completed phase one which was the planning processes for the project. We were asked to do environmental research before the construction proceeds, which will not take less than nine months.”
He said construction would start in the second term of next year.
Engagement talks with the department of higher education on what role the latter would play in the project were being held.
“We have been rigorously trying to raise funds with the business world and we are looking for long-term partnerships. This is not only going to benefit the community, but their businesses as well. The development will be a good investment for Enoch Mgijima, which is at the centre of the hinterland, and there can be no economic growth without development.”
Emphasis would be placed on a “green” campus structure.
“We want less electricity, less air-conditioning units, less artificial lights and more solar panels and recycled water. There will also be a diminished cable network – we will be running internet with WiFi optic fibre which will replace cables.”
The traditional four-wall classroom structure would be replaced by amphitheatre-styled architecture to ensure natural climate control.
The campus in Grey Street was due to expand this year with the university awaiting the completion of the tender process. It was anticipated that this campus would be used for community engagement where short-term learning programmes would be offered in the future.
Two new fields of study – information and communication technology (IT) and bachelor of commerce in agricultural studies – would also be added.
The Whittlesea campus would be used for science and agro studies in the future.
EMLM communications manager Fundile Feketshane said the council had approved the plot for Walter Sisulu University, subject to conditions which would be announced at a later stage.
“It is inherent that communities shall duly benefit during the construction and post-construction. The university is established for teaching and learning, research and knowledge development and also for community upliftment.
“Currently the university and Enoch Mgijima are busy dealing with some technicalities and in due course, major announcements will be made by both parties.”