The recently constructed Beterverwagting Nursery School is not in compliance with the general building standard implemented since the 2004-2005 Great Flood which suggests that construction of public buildings should have a first storey elevation of 2.5 feet to three feet off the ground.
Stabroek News was told by an engineer that since the major flood over eight years ago building standards have recognised that elevation is mandatory for buildings such as schools and health centres. He said that flood-prone areas had to take into consideration the inevitable and a nursery school had to be prepared for potential flooding.
He said that normally once a plan is developed by any ministry it is reviewed by a committee and experts from three or more ministries will weigh in, identifying any potential problem. The engineer did say that while that is the norm it may not happen all the time and that the Public Works Ministry in particular may not be included as many ministries have developed their own public works division such as the education ministry which was responsible for the school’s construction.
He said that while a public works department exists at the education ministry, consulting with the Public Works Ministry may have been beneficial prior to the school being constructed and general standards not being followed. Residents in the BV community have noted that since the area is prone to flooding the construction design seemed impractical.
Sherwood Lowe, a lecturer at the University of Guyana, in a recent letter to Stabroek News stated that the Public Works Ministry was careless in their planning and construction.
He said that “by now, one would have thought our designers would raise the lower floors of these buildings several feet off the ground to ensure they can still function on rainy days”. Lowe continued that “not only that, but also to ensure such buildings can serve as shelters or storage bonds should another major flood event, such as those in 2005 and 2006, visit us.”
He expressed frustration that along the flood prone East Coast new construction was seemingly more concerned with looking tidy without the added benefit of function.
When Stabroek News spoke with an elderly woman in the area she recounted that in the years past, flooding in the BV area was “terrible” and that going forward she would have hoped that plans took possible flooding into consideration. She said that she has grandchildren who would be attending the nursery school come this September and that she would hate for them to be taken out of school because the school could flood and become useless as teachers, students and parents wait for the water to drain away.
She however did point at the PVC pipes and said that she hoped they would be “good enough” as a precautionary measure to drain flood water.
Stabroek News spoke to a young mother who was concerned that the school could be prone to flooding. She said that the primary and secondary schools in the area had taken flooding into consideration and that students could always be moved to the second floor for classes.