After years of being mired in controversy surrounding its structural standard, remedial works on the Kato Secondary School have been completed, and all is set for a September opening.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, told reporters at Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that the Certificate of Practical Completion was issued by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, who some two weeks ago had led to Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) a task force comprising technical experts from the Public Infrastructure and Education ministries to inspect the works done to fix several defects on the building.
“They had declared that it will be ready for occupation, and I think they were in the process of moving furniture into it. I believe (that) for the September school reopening, that school will be ready for utilisation,” Minister Harmon declared.
Contract for construction of the Kato Secondary School, worth $728.1 million, was in late 2012 awarded to Kares Engineering Inc., and works commenced the following year with a completion date set for April 2015. However, completion of the project was delayed on two occasions.
A technical audit conducted subsequently had found that approximately 60 per cent of the project was defective, with another 30 per cent just over the borderline. Only about 10 per cent of the project was structurally sound.
Among issues highlighted in the report was that the contractor had prioritised cost effectiveness over professional competence, and had used inadequately qualified consultants for the project.
During a media tour done last August, Architect Davendra Doodnauth of Rodrigues Architects Auditing Company had pointed out jarring evidence that the building had been poorly constructed, such as bad timbers; exposed electrical outlets; cracking stairways and walls; termite infestation, and exposed steel.
And Albert Rodrigues, Managing Director of Rodrigues Architects Ltd., had explained in the technical report that the project was flawed from the design phase. The auditing firm had estimated that remedial works on the Region Eight school could rack up a bill of in excess of $140 million, and would take some six months to fix the deficiencies.
Kares Engineering subsequently undertook to have the remedial works done, and have since completed same.
The newly completed Kato Secondary School has 56 classrooms, each capable of accommodating at least 35 students. There are four communal dorms for students; four self-contained matron’s quarters; eight teacher’s quarters with two bedrooms each; an admin building; an auditorium; an Information Technology (IT) laboratory to accommodate 15 work stations; and 34 toilet and urinal facilities.
Having completed the remedial works, Kares Engineering has a contractual agreement wherein any defects occurring on the building within one year would be fixed at no additional cost to Government.
Toshao of Kato, Clifton Pereira, expressed elation at the school being finally completed and ready for utilisation.
“I’m anxious to see the reopening of the school in September, so that the children can benefit from it,” he said.
The Toshao would previously have voiced his concerns about delays in completing the facility, pointing out that the Paramakatoi Secondary School is severely overcrowded and students in the community were being forced to attend schools as far away as Sand Creek, Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo).