Oct 03, 2011 News
More than two weeks after an early morning fire damaged a section of the Wismar/Christianburg Secondary School, no rehabilitative works have been done, and both the Principal and teachers have expressed concern about the part of the roof that was damaged, exposing that section of the building to the elements.
“We have to pray that the rains don’t start, because the teachers that currently reside in apartments under that section will be flooded out,” Principal Cleveland Thomas declared.
Thomas said that he was very concerned that after two weeks, no repair works have started.
“All that was done so far is that the area has been barricaded, but the roof is still open, and we had to have the power switched off to the entire building because we know that some of the electrical circuits have been compromised.
Our gravest concern is that during the rainy season, the water will no doubt destroy the second floor. That’s the area just below where the fire occurred- it’s going to go to the first floor, and it will leak into apartments five and six (teachers’ apartments). It’s not a very safe situation because we have students back at school. Ok, we have a contingency plan already in place, but I’m looking at the amount of destruction that will occur due to the damaged and ‘open’ roof.”
Thomas was also concerned that students cannot use some of the washrooms because some of them were damaged by the fire.
Apart from that, the Principal noted that there are several pieces of material hanging on the outside of the building, which could fall at anytime and possibly injure or kill someone.
“I am disappointed that a situation this grave- the authorities did not move in faster to get the work done. I really thought that by now the work would have started. What we here have done though, is get the janitors to clean up the Staff Room-remove the burnt equipment and so on, and the books that were destroyed.”
The Principal’s fears were reiterated by other staff members, one of whom expressed disgust with the present prevailing conditions in the teachers’ apartments.
According to the teacher, apart from the very real threat of being ‘flooded out’ if it rains, the present conditions of the apartments, for which they are required to pay a rental, leaves very much to be desired.
Over the years nothing has been done to lift the standards of these apartments, and even a section of the guttering which was damaged by heavy winds and became detached and was left hanging earlier this year, has not been fixed, the teacher noted.
The area where the gutter was dislodged along with the facings, houses the computer lab, and there is concern that any moisture or leakage will damage the computers.
“After the fire, personnel from the Ministry of Public Works, The Linden Utility Cooperative Society, the Regional Executive Officer Henry Rodney, Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo, and Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon were all here- and the Linden fire Fire Chief of course was here. They all came to assess the damage, so I was hoping that by now at least a contractor would have shown up,” Thomas said.
Thomas noted that with the sports season on, this would be the opportune time to commence works, as the building would be cleared on many days.
Asked to comment on the present situation as regards the school, REO Henry Rodney pointed out that it was not fair to say that nothing was done, as the damaged area was secured and barricaded.
Rodney further pointed out that presently, his department is in the process of preparing tenders, and preparations are being put in place to commence the rehabilitative works. He however acknowledged that no works can commence as they are not yet in receipt of a fire report.
A call to the Linden Fire Service confirmed that the fire was electrical in origin.
The Wismar Christianburg Secondary School was established over three decades ago, and according to informed sources, there has never been a complete electrical overhaul of the building in all these years.
The school was recently saved through the prompt action of the Linden Fire Service, after a blaze erupted on the top floor in the vicinity of the staff wash rooms. Persons later applauded the work of the firemen, who fought valiantly and succeeded in putting out the fire despite their limited resources. Several residents who had raced to the scene and helped teachers to clear their apartments also came in for high praise.
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