Region seeking input in crafting solutions for collapsing $77M Rupununi school

Region Nine Chairman Wilson Laurentino yesterday said that the problems with the foundations of the $77.7 million Sand Creek Secondary School are ongoing although the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) has done remedial work on the school.

He said that the school in South Central Rupununi, which was built in 2012, shows signs of severe structural issues due to the poor building supplies used in its construction it. “The government builds and they don’t do it properly so when things start to fall apart then it is the RDC’s problem,” Laurentino told Stabroek News.

His statement came on the heels of PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee declaring yesterday morning that construction work was ongoing at the school. He said that one of the broken beams was repaired and that while there were signs of other structural problems, they would soon be addressed.

Rohee was speaking at the PPP weekly press conference at Freedom House, where he said, “There are other visible signs of structural defects. An urgent request was sent to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education for an engineer from the Central Ministry to check on same.”

He also said that the opposition’s issues with the $77.7 million secondary school were misinformed. He said that opposition continuous tried to put negative spins on the “good efforts of the government and those who are making contributions to improvement our children’s education.”

But according to Laurentino, the RDC was not consulted when the school was commissioned and now that it is in a state of disrepair, the region is trying its best to resolve the issues. He said that the floor needed to be completely redone. “It is turning to dust. They used the savannah sand and not river sand, so the mixture was poor,” he observed.

Laurentino said that the Public Works and Education ministries have sent in personnel to assess the condition of the school in early February but to date no report was submitted to the RDC. As a result, “We had to go in a do things ourselves… there are lots of cracks, but the kids are now using the second floor.”

He told Stabroek News that the need to repair an essentially brand new school was frustrating, to say the least. Earlier in February, Laurentino had revealed that parents were withdrawing their children from the school because they feared the school might collapse due to structural issues.

Residents had told Stabroek News that the parents were extremely concerned. “They fear that the building is not strong and anytime it could collapse…. If it collapse, it’s a huge part of the building that could fall,” one of them had said.

Laurentino told Stabroek News that the RDC would like to be included in any ongoing investigations, while adding without consultation from the region’s works department, the two ministries were making uninformed decisions.

When contacted, Education Minister Priya Manickchand stated that an assessment was currently ongoing into the structural issues. She said that the ministry was aware of the deficiencies and they were being addressed.

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