University of Central Asia’s Khorog Campus Construction Progressing Rapidly and Making a Difference

KHOROG, TAJIKISTAN – Dec 07, 2015 – Construction of the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) campus in Khorog, Tajikistan is on schedule for an accelerated September 2017 opening, says Director of Construction and Facilities Grant Robertson.

“We were originally scheduled to complete Phase I construction in 2018 but are now aiming to open the campus one year earlier, in 2017,” said Robertson after a recent visit to the site, where he congratulated the construction team for their timely and high quality work.

The Khorog campus is one of three campuses being built by UCA across the region. When fully operational, UCA will have campuses in Khorog, Tajikistan; in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic and in Tekeli, Kazakhstan. The Naryn campus is scheduled to open in September 2016 and the Tekeli campus, currently in the detailed design stage, is anticipated to open in 2019.

“We are delighted with the progress in construction in Khorog. However, more significant than this is the fact that, even before the doors of our Khorog campus open, UCA is having a profound impact on socioeconomic development and well-being of communities in the region. This policy of ensuring maximum benefit tolocal communities was also successfully implemented during the construction of our Naryn campus,” remarked Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Executive Chairman of UCA’s Board Executive Committee.

Kassim-Lakha was referring to UCA’s in-house innovative and inclusive Agency Construction Management strategy, which is designed to maximise the socioeconomic benefits of an $285 million investment to the University’s host communities and establish best practices related to efficiency and sustainability. Under the strategy, UCA engages and manages several contractors, each handling a specific scope of work. This allows for more control over operations and more flexibility in appointing contractors, increasing the potential for local economic impact through use of local contractors and suppliers.

It is no accident therefore that the University’s permanent construction management onsite team of engineers and managers is fully recruited from Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), of which Khorog is the capital. As many as 95 percent of the construction workers currently onsite and over 20 contractors are alsofrom the region. Contractors from outside the region also have a local economic obligation. For example, the sub and superstructure contractor, Turas, which is a Turkish-Tajik joint venture, is tax registered in Khorog and so will other overseas contractors engaged in the construction process.

“I used to work in Russia to try to feed my family here in Khorog, but I was not successful. This summer, I found the same work I had done in Moscow at the UCA construction site with Turas. I realised that it is possible to make a living here, near my home. For the first time, I am making a  living and seeing my family every day. Working at UCA has changed my life,” said shutterer and rebar fitter Faridun Khudobakhshov.

In addition to offering steady employment, UCA provides workers at the construction site with access to international standard welfare facilities and subsidised meals. A Khorog-based company was awarded the contract to serve nearly 600 meals daily.

“The UCA welfare facility, with its modern facilities and good quality, affordable meals, is unmatched in quality or design. Previously, I worked as a cook in a canteen for an overseas construction company. I must say the meals served in the UCA canteen are top-notch,” observed UCA canteen operator and chef Umed Gulomaseynov.

The preparatory site works, valued at $7 million, were also contracted to Khorog-based companies. Many workers currently on site are graduates of UCA’s Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) apprentice-based programme. Located at a state-of-the-art facility built by apprentices, TVET has enrolled 590 students to date. Workers also benefit from on-the-job training at the construction site, acquiring transferable skills.

UCA has installed on-site construction equipment, including a batching plant that was transported from the Naryn construction site. The University is also using locally sourced materials, including stone and sand for the site’s concrete that was generated from onsite quarried and crushed raw stone.

“By providing training and opportunities, installing on-site equipment and using locally sourced materials, UCA is building capacity and avoiding the carbon footprint of transporting materials to the remote site. These are all resources and practices which can be applied to future projects in the region.” said Muzaffar Jorubov, UCA’s Chief Operating Officer, who is from Rushan district, GBAO.

Work on the recruitment of UCA’s first cohort of undergraduate students is already advancing. The first two academic programmes at the Khorog campus will be Bachelor’s degrees in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Economics, complementing Computer Sciences and Media and Communications at Naryn. The University’s Mountain Societies Research Institute, which is dedicated to addressing challenges and opportunities within Central Asian mountain communities, will be relocated at the Khorog campus from Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.

At a total capital cost of $94.4 million, Phase I construction of the Khorog campus is being funded by a $64.4 million commitment from the Aga Khan Development Network, including $7.5 million from the Aga Khan Foundation, and a long-term soft loan of $30 million from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the United States Government’s development finance institution.

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