Following the completion of works to correct major defects, the Kato Secondary School, in Region Eight, will be ready to accommodate students when the new school term begins in September, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who says it is now being furnished.
“You might have seen in the news last week that the school is complete… The Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, would’ve led a team along with the Ministry of Education to inspect it,” Harmon said in response to questions at last Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing on whether the remedial works at the school had been completed.
He added that it was declared open and the school building is now being furnished. “…And I believe that for September opening, the school will be ready for utilisation,” he added.
Constructed by Kares Engineering at a cost of $728.1 million, the school was never occupied after it was found to be riddled with major defects after construction ended in 2015.
An audit by Rodrigues Architects Limited subsequently found that the building was unsafe for children and that at least $144 million would be required to fix the defects.
Reports by the firm highlighted that the standard of construction and the quality of material and workmanship on the buildings of the complex were below average standard, resultantly requiring major corrective work to give a useful life in excess of ten years; all the other key elements such as corridors, floors, ceilings, stairs and walkways had major defects that would require fixing before safe usage and continuous inspection and maintenance thereafter; and lack of supervision, poor construction and quality of materials used and deviation from specifications, design/construction drawings by the contractor.
A tour by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure of the school complex in 2016 had showed evidence of poor construction with cracked and crumbling concrete floors and walls, steel protruding from the walls, unstable safety bars, termite-infested wood, poor installation of equipment in the science lab, and cheap bathroom fixtures, among a number of other defects.
Kares was subsequently allowed to complete all corrective works on the school, at no cost to the government, under the supervision of Vikab Engineering, which was selected to oversee the works at a cost of $29.2 million.
Observers have questioned the wisdom of having Kares undertake the remedial work considering the extent of the defects that had been discovered. It has been argued that the performance bond which should have been attached to the project should have been tapped and a new contractor assigned to the task.