A Ministerial team on Saturday visited the Kato Secondary School in Region Eight, to get a firsthand look at the state of the building and what needs to be done to make it operational.
The team comprised Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton. They were accompanied by their technical staff.
The Ministerial team was accompanied by Regional Executive Officer, Raphael Downes, and a Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE) representative.
“Upon taking a tour of the school that was constructed at close to $1B, it was very evident that sub-standard works were done. This was visible by the cracking walls, floors which were either being eaten by termites or with large holes, poor toilet facilities and faulty electrical wiring among others,” a government statement said.
According to Minister Patterson, the building is in a much worse state since the second audit report, conducted in October 2016. However, the Minister noted that an independent consultant from GAPE will detail the works needed to be done, in addition to what is identified in the two audit reports.
“We will be seeking from them (GAPE), their recommendations. If the consultancy has to be done by a structural engineer, then it is a must…I do think we need a mechanical engineer, and an electrical engineer. As you look around there is no electricity, and if you look around the pipe works are all exposed,” the Minister explained.
Patterson added, “We are trying to find a solution, because it is unfair to the community if we do not try to find a solution.”
Minister Roopnaraine said that after looking at the building, there is not much that is “redemptive”.
The Minister noted, “There is a lot of work to do. There is a lot of shoddy work that has been done, and I think we have to go into major repairs and reconstruction.”
GAPE’s representative, Jean Ramkellawan, also voiced similar concern saying that after touring the school, it was clear that a lot of substandard work was done.
Based on Ramkellawan’s assessment thus far, “Very poor supervision” is one of the main causes for the condition in which the building is currently.
The Kato Secondary School was built under the previous administration to facilitate students in the region who travel long distances to access secondary level education.
However, due to the substandard work done by the contractor, Kares Engineering Inc., it has not been occupied.
The Ministerial team is hoping to have the works on the building started and completed as quickly as possible.
The construction has been an embarrassement for the previous administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic.
The new administration has expressed unhappiness with Kares and suggested that they are unlikely to receive any state contract.
Government yesterday, in another statement, said that Toshaos and other residents of Region Eight will be given the opportunity to play a greater role in ensuring that the Kato Secondary School repairs are done in keeping with requisite standards.
On Saturday, Toshaos and residents of Region Eight met with a government delegation on the way forward with respect to the defective Kato Secondary School.
During the consultation, it was proposed by the government delegation that an oversight committee be established to supervise the works at the school. The committee will be made up of four members, two from the Toshaos council, and one each from the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE), and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC).
“If this four-person committee which you will have the majority on does not accept the work, we do not accept the work. So the only way we will be accepting the school to even move forward is if the committee, the four persons, they come and they inspect and say everything is to our satisfaction.
“If they do not, we do not accept it. So therefore obviously we are giving you the power to say what happens to the school, when it happens to the school and things like that,” Minister Patterson explained.
The proposal was accepted, however, it was recommended that training be provided for the Toshaos so that they would have the capacity to understand the scope of the work being done.
The government is hoping to establish the committee as early as possible so that reconstruction of the Kato Secondary School can begin by the end of March.
Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine is hopeful that the school can be reconstructed and completed in time for the September school term.
Two independent audits have already been conducted with the latest one estimating the repairs to the building will cost about $140M. Minister Patterson pointed out that a third audit will be conducted by GAPE which will submit a report to the government when completed.
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