PROPERTY owners in Gweru’s Senga and Nehosho high-density suburbs are cashing in on the accommodation crisis at Midlands State University where they have converted their houses into hostels and are charging as much as $100 for each student .
MSU has an enrolment of close to 20 000 students, but the institution can only offer accommodation to about 3 000 students at its hostels, forcing the majority of students to stay at rented private homes.
One property owner and proprietor of Priscilla Hostel in Windsor Park low-density suburb has posted flyers around town offering “quality” accommodation to students.
The hostel was offering students bedding, a kitchen with four-plate stoves, fridges and study rooms with tables and chairs for $85 per room a month inclusive of water and electricity.
Although the rentals are exorbitant for students, they said they had no choice as they were desperate for accommodation for the semester.
“Our parents have to fork out for off-campus accommodation as we have to put up somewhere,” said a first-year student, who identified herself as Sheila.
Most landlords in the nearby Senga and Nehosho suburbs have turned their houses into boarding facilities where they charge up to $100 per head a month.
“With my six-roomed house if I manage to get two students in one room, I can get as much as $1 200 per month,” said Anna Moyo of Senga.
According to Simbarashe Govo, who owns a house in Nehosho, offering accommodation to students had become big business for most landlords in the suburb.
Though MSU officials have been making frantic efforts to construct new hostels at the former Gweru Teachers’ College campus, they have admitted that solving the accommodation crisis at the institution has become a “nightmare”.
Last year, MSU vice-chancellor Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe told President Robert Mugabe during the institution’s graduation ceremony that the accommodation crisis was giving him sleepless nights.