Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE country’s sole accredited hydraform brick moulder, Bulawayo-based Astra Building Centre is targeting to play a big part in fulfilling Zanu-PF’s aspirations of constructing 1,5 million houses in the next five years if the party wins this year’s elections.
Astra Building Centre managing director Mr Jabulani Nkomo said the company was bidding to participate in the massive housing project using its cheap and efficient hydraform brick and block houses concept.
Presiding over the launch of the ruling party’s election manifesto last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his Government will target to build 1,5 million houses in the next five years.
“We are optimistic that with time people will believe that hydrafoam is the best construction alternative and we also believe hydraform will play a very big part in Government’s target of building 1,5 million houses in the next five years because it’s a much affordable and efficient way of constructing low cost houses,” said Mr Nkomo.
He said the concept of constructing houses using the interlocking soil-cement blocks was gaining popularity since its inception into the country in 2006 and was being used in about 60 countries in the world.
“We are trying to champion it (the hydraform house building concept) but because of the different way the construction is done using that brick most are still to appreciate it and can’t believe you can build a house using an interlocking block that does not need cement. We are hoping that as we progress people will believe in the brick, the interest has certainly been there but everybody is doing a watch and see approach, but all I can say is that it’s a safe way of constructing,” said Mr Nkomo.
The development of the interlocking soil-cement blocks was born out of the idea that if one could stabilise soil (an often discarded material as opposed to sand which is the more common building material) and give it a form, one could substantially reduce building costs.
“It’s very cheap compared to the usual way of constructing. You save a lot of cement, water and time and you can employ anybody who is a bricklayer to construct a house using this concept. We don’t heat our bricks in a furnace. We rely on the natural sun and air with the block itself being made of soil, water and a little bit of cement. So there is simplicity in every step of the way, which makes the whole process from the production of the brick to the final completion of the house affordable,” said Mr Nkomo.
He also said a constructor would use less in terms of bricks in constructing a super structure using hydraform compared to the standard brick.
Since introducing the hydraform, Astra Building Centre has embarked on a number of projects starting with the construction of a house at Emganwini high- density suburb.
It has also constructed a perimeter wall at Mpilo Central Hospital, built two teachers’ houses at John Landa High School in Tsholotsho as well as building houses for flood victims in the same area, built a number of cottages in Matsheumhlophe in Bulawayo as well as constructing houses for Zimplats at Selous.
“Currently we are doing a project at Hopeville, a new suburb (in Bulawayo) where we have built one demonstration house. We are supposed to build two, the next one is coming very soon,” said Mr Nkomo.
Apart from manufacturing hydraform pavers, block and bricks, the company is also the sole accredited dealer of hydraform machines in the country.-@DNsingo