Mzuzu University (Mzuni) says it is yet to make a breakthrough in sourcing K3.5 billion (about $5.1 million) for construction of a library to replace the one that was burnt down last December.
Mzuni vice-chancellor Robert Ridley said in an interview the university has held discussions with several stakeholders on funds to construct the library but it is yet to secure the money.
He said: “We have had preliminary discussions with several parties about funds to build a new library, noting that it will cost over K3.5 billion. However, because of the large amount of money required, this will take time. We have had no breakthrough yet.”
In the interim, Mzuni turned its main hall into a temporary library.
Ridley said the hall will be ready for use after Easter weekend to provide basic library services as classes begin. By the time the hall opens as a library, he said, the school will have spent around K40 million (about $59 000) to modify it.
In December last year, fire burnt the school’s library destroying property, including the building, valued at K6 billion (about $8.7million).
The cost of rebuilding the original library has been pegged at K1.8 billion (about $2.6million), value of about 45 000 books that were burnt has been estimated at the furniture and equipment, including information and communication technology equipment was K600 million (about $879 000).
Mzuni is also faced with the challenge of shortage of books as, so far, 2 300 books have been donated to the school, a figure that is about five percent of the books that were damaged. The current stock of books is not enough to serve a student population of about 4 000 Ridley hoped that more books will be donated to the school, adding that the school will soon get furniture from a University in Scotland.
“Many more books are pledged and on their way. We have also had a complete set of library furniture donated by Strathclyde university in Scotland. This is being shipped out to us in a container this week and should be with us in May,” he said.
Mzuni Students Representative Council (Musrec) president Wazamazama Katatu said the absence of a proper library will heavily inconvenience students but they have to adapt to the situation.
Opened in the late 1990s, Mzuni is the country’s second oldest public university after the University of Malawi (Unima) established in 1965. Other public universities are Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) and Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must). n