All works have been halted at the Kato High School, and a reassessment of the remedial works that need to be completed before the building can be occupied will take place this week, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday.
Vibert Welch told committee members on Monday that the contractor had agreed to undertake all remedial works, but the contractor, together with the consultant would be traveling to Kato, Region Eight this week to do a reassessment of what needs to be corrected.
It was related that the ministry has an ongoing investigation into the matter, the findings of which Welch said should be made available in the 2016 annual report.
Irfaan Ali, PAC committee chairman, however, asked that the report be quickly laid before the committee, to which Welch assented.
The Kato School, which was never occupied, was found to be riddled with major defects after construction by Kares Engineering ended in 2015.
It was stated in the Auditor General’s (AG’s) 2015 report that a contract for the construction of the Kato Secondary School Complex was granted no objection by Cabinet on December 27, 2012 and was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board to the lowest of four bidders.
The report further states that the contract was formally signed on December 31, 2012 for a commencement date of January 2013 with a two-year duration and a defects liability period of one year after the project’s completion.
While the contractor was reportedly granted a revised contract completion date of September 30 2015, documents showed that in July of 2015 a letter was sent by the consultant “instructing the contractor to complete all outstanding and corrective works before 21 August 2015”.
The report said that in addition to this, on December 31, 2015, the Finance Secretary approved a multi-year contract for $661.3 million which was paid to the contractor. At the time when the AG’s report was put together in September 2016, the performance bond for the project had already expired and physical verification of works was ongoing.
As was previously reported, at least $144 million would be required to fix the defective school which was built at a cost of $728.1 million, according to auditing firm Rodrigues Architects Limited who in 2016 said that the building was unsafe for children.
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.
In early May, a bid of $29.2M was placed by Vikab Engineering for supervisory services for the remedial works to be done at the school.
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.