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R40 million construction contract with black empowerment group starts at UFS
2006-09-04

During the ceremonial kick-off of the biggest construction project in the history of the UFS were from the left: Ms Vuyiwe Mkhupha (Manager of   Sikeyi Construction), Prof Frederick Fourie (Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS) and Prof Steve Basson (Head of the UFS Department of Chemistry). Photo: (Gerhard Louw)

R40 million construction contract with black empowerment group starts at UFS   

The biggest construction contract in the history of the University of the Free State (UFS) to the value of R40 million has started on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.  The contractors are Ströhfeldt Construction, in a joint venture with Sikeyi Construction, a black empowerment partner.

The contract comprises the extensive modernising, refurnishing and extension of the Chemistry Building.  This is the highest amount the UFS has ever spent on the refurnishing of a building. 
 
A number of initiatives have contributed to the fact that the UFS Department of Chemistry is one of the foremost chemistry departments in the country:
 

  • Expensive equipment and apparatus to the value of almost R20 million were acquired by the department the past year;
  • The basis of this is a strategic partnership with Sasol, the biggest research and development company  in the country;
  • The purchase of the most advanced 600MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectro meter in Africa;
  • The purchase of a single crystal X-ray diffractometer; and
  • The purchase of a differential scanning calorie meter, used to test the effect of heat on chemicals.  This apparatus comprises of the most advanced detectors in the world.

“Natural scientists need the necessary equipment, apparatus and laboratories to be able to exercise world-class science.  Three years ago the UFS top management made a strategic decision to focus strongly on research and on our  laboratories and lecture halls,“ said Prof Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, during the launch of the Chemistry Building’s refurbishment.

“I regard this project as a symbol of our investment in science and the academy,“ said Prof Fourie.

Prof Fourie said that the UFS spent almost R100 million in the last 5 years to renovate the Main Campus.  New buildings such as Thakaneng Bridge were built and other such as the Reitz Dining Hall was renovated and converted into the Centenary Complex.  “These projects, together with the refurbishment of the Chemistry Building, also show how the UFS contributes to the development and growth of not only Bloemfontein, but also how we invest in the Free State,“ said Prof Fourie.

According to Ms Edma Pelzer, Director: Physical Planning and Special Projects at the UFS, the current building originally comprised of the Moerdyk Building built in 1949 and a newer wing built in 1966.  This building became too small and obsolete and a new part is now being added to the eastern side.
  
According to Ms Pelzer a great deal of the project comprises the dramatic upgrading and modernising of laboratories, existing mechanical systems and the installation of new systems.  “The nature of the work of staff and students demands sophisticated mechanical systems such as air conditioning, fume hoods, the provision of gas, etc and therefore these received specific attention.  The research laboratories, lecture laboratories and office areas will also be separated for safety and greater efficiency,” said Ms Pelzer.

“Interesting design solutions for the complex needs of the department were found and I foresee that the building and its immediate environment will be an adornment to the Main Campus after its expected completion in 2008,” said Ms Pelzer.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:  (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
14 September 2006

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