The Kato Secondary School, which was constructed at a cost over hundreds of millions of dollars, remains unoccupied because it is not safe for children, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said yesterday.
Harmon, asked at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing for an update on the Region Eight school, said that an evaluation done by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure found that the building was not safe enough to be occupied by children.
“Remedial work has to be done and the Kato Secondary School, that school is not being occupied as yet and the contractor who was given the contract has been called in and they are basically dealing with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in relation to that contract and several other contracts that particular contractor had with the Ministry of Education,” Harmon said.
This contradicts what Harmon had said in November of last year when he stated that an evaluation of the school had been completed and it was scheduled to be opened in January of this year. Harmon was at the time announcing Cabinet’s approval of over $55M in contracts for the furnishing of the school, including the student dormitories and the living quarters for teachers.
Kares Engineering had won the contract for the construction of the school with a bid of $691,972,139, although the original estimate had put construction at $500 million.
In February, opposition parliamentarian Nigel Dharamlall had asked Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan to say when the school would be opened. The Minister told the National Assembly that the government was “awaiting the findings of a detailed assessment presently being conducted by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure” to make such a determination.
Minster of Public Infrastructure David Patterson had said that the assessment had found severe structural defects in the complex.
He had further explained that the concrete laid by the contractor had proven to be sound in only 10% of the tests conducted by an independent consultant, while Bulkan said that the flaws went beyond the construction of the complex to its design. “60% of tests done on the concrete failed while a further 30% were borderline. Only 10% proved sound,” Patterson had said.
The previous government had boasted that the school when opened would have cost around $1b in total.