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By Unity Labour Party

The issue

One aspect of the Education Revolution is the quest to improve markedly the physical facilities within which the students at the various levels of education (pre-primary, primary, secondary, post-secondary, and tertiary).  This involves not only repairing, rehabilitating, and rebuilding the existing “school plant”, but to build modern, well-equipped educational institutions to provide an optimal environment for learning and teaching.  This process has been underway since 2001 when the ULP government met the school plant in shambles — poor and deteriorating physical facilities, inadequate and insufficient plant; and this process continues apace.

Currently, in addition to the usual ongoing, substantial school repairs during the July-September holidays, there are specific capital works in the educational sector.  One such huge capital project being implemented is the modestly-named “School Improvement Programme” financed principally by a soft-loan, of some EC$80 million from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB); there is, too, counterpart financing from the Government of SVG (GOSVG).

This loan was secured to rehabilitate/rebuild extensively/construct nine schools (primary and secondary) as follows:

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  • Rebuild/rehabilitate seven schools: St. Vincent Grammar School, Girls’ High School, Thomas Saunders Secondary School, St. Clair Dacon Secondary School, Bequia Community High School, Barrouallie Anglican Primary School, and Barrouallie Government Primary School.
  • Build two modern schools: Kingstown Anglican Primary School and Sandy Bay Secondary School. 

The original CDB-loan was approximately EC$36.3 million but building costs rose exponentially and the scope of works were enlarged significantly, so a further EC$43.011 million was borrowed.

The details are set out below regarding the progress of this capital programme of huge import to students, teachers, and our nation.

Schools rehab completed

  • The Barrouallie Anglican Primary School has undergone significant rehabilitation as follows: (1) Block A (single-storey classroom block): Repairing and replacing windows and doors; remove and replace timber partitions with sliding, folding partitions; repairing roof and guttering; repairing floors, and walls, and ceilings); (2) Block C (Two story classroom/administrative building): Repairing and replacing windows and doors; repairing floors, walls, and ceilings; install electrical bell; Exterior works: Constructing a small parking lot; fencing the school compound; retrofitting wash-room facilities.
  • The Barrouallie Government Primary School: Extensive works were completed by rehabilitating the playing area (netball/basketball court); grassing the remainder of compound; putting in a sound drainage solution for the school compound; rehabilitating the washroom facilities; repairing the fence; relocating the exit and entrance to the school; building a security booth; extensive termite treatment of the entire facility.

The works on both of these primary schools were done by the firm of Bally and Bally Investments Limited at a cost of over EC$3 million.

  • The St. Vincent Grammar School: Rehabilitation works of some EC$3.8 million were done by two firms (Bally and Bally: EC$2.45 million; and Gibson Construction: EC$1.85 million).

The new building (Block B), a two-story structure with eight classrooms, was constructed by Gibson Construction.  Bally and Bally did, among other things, the substantial bathroom and other renovations and the installation of AC units.

  • Rehab/rebuilding/extensions in progress in 4 schools

The following schools are being rehabilitated/rebuilt and extended:

  • Bequia Community High School: As of April 30, 2024, the works here are 70% complete; they are being done at a cost of approximately EC$6.1 million.  The contractor is Sea Operations Limited.

The scope of works include: Renovating, upgrading and extending the first floor of the main block to accommodate 250 students (Forms 1 – 5), library information room, sick bay, Principal’s Office, staff-room, washroom facilities, and a physical education room; replacement of the main block roof; landscaping and fencing of the compound; security facilities.

The project has some delays relating, in large part, to the layout design of the new extension, and certain unforeseen circumstances of two septic tanks which required a redesign of the foundation.

All the works on this school are expected to be concluded by the end of August 2024, for the reopening of school in September 2024.

  • St. Clair Dacon Secondary School: The scope of works here include the following: Refurbishing four classrooms and the administrative building, comprising two science labs, a staff room and the principal’s office. Many details are included in this broad description. The contractor is Bally and Bally Investment, and the contract sum for the works amounts to EC$3.1 million.

There have been unacceptable delays here.  The original contract was of 12 months duration; however, 18 months have elapsed thus far, the works are to be completed for the school term beginning in September 2024.

  • St. Vincent Girls High School: The original contract sum was EC$2.948 million and the contractor is Bally and Bally Investments. However, an alteration of the scope of the works is likely to add at least another EC$8 million.  The original contracted works are proceeding while final assessments of the Byron Block and the Business Centre, and the Grimble Hall Building are being concluded by the consultants.

Work on the Norma Keizer Resource Centre is currently being done; it is 99% complete.  The refurbishment works done here include: Repairing or replacing doors, door frames, windows, window frames, and hand rails; restoration of ground floor and walls; replacement of roof; extensive repairs to the science laboratory.

Work on the Coutts Building is 80% complete.  The outstanding works include installing remaining doors and windows and floor finished. These works are expected to be completed by May 31, 2024.

However, the status of the Byron Block and Business Centre, and the Grimble Hall Building is as follows:

  • Byron Block and Business Centre: The original scope of works and the cost estimates were inadequately addressed by the external technical experts.  In-house reassessments were done and it was considered necessary and desirable to procure the services of an independent consultant to prepare the scope and cost of the required works; the consultant has assessed this number at some EC$6 million, but the CDB budget for this is EC$3 million; so, a further reassessment is done to bring the cost to $3 million.
  • Grimble Hall Building: The original assessments by an external consultant were flawed; further deterioration had set in on the building.  An independent consultant was procured to assess an expanded scope of works. Originally, the proposed works focused on the rehabilitation of the floor and the roof.  The altered scope of works now includes the demolishing of the entire building and rebuilding it, but with features of the original iconic building.  The revised designs came in at a cost of EC$8 million, but the consultant has been requested to keep the cost to no more than EC$5 million; a new schedule is to be submitted by May 10, 2024.

The expected start-up date for construction is September 2024, taking account of the procurement process and mobilisation of a contractor.  This facility will require another 15 months of construction, given the significant altered scope of works.

  • Thomas Saunders Secondary School:  The scope of works for the renovation of this school has been changed to the construction of a new building on the part of the school which was originally the Richmond Hill Primary School.  A review of the original assessment revealed that the integrity of the current structure is compromised and not fit for purpose.

Accordingly, the TVA Consultants Ltd. were awarded a contract for Design and Supervision of the Construction of the school.  TVA Consultants are expected to submit preliminary designs and costings later this week.  Upon the review and approval of these preliminary designs the next step will be the preparation of the tender documents to procure a building contractor.  The tender is expected to be launched by the end of June 2024, and a contract will be awarded by late September 2024. Construction will commence thereafter and is expected to take between 12 to 15 months to complete.

2 new schools to be built

  • Kingstown Anglican School: 18 classrooms for 400 students; administrative area; library; student and staff washrooms; computer lab; sick bay; kitchen to prepare lunches for over 300 students; security booth; ancillary facilities. The estimated cost is just over EC$5 million.

This school went out for construction last year but the one bidder did not pre-qualify; thus, the tender was unresponsive.  The terms of the tender are being reviewed with the CDB; an evaluation report on this is expected this week from the consultant.  The tender will then go out and an award be duly made.  Construction is expected to start in October 2024; construction will last for 12 months.

  • Sandy Bay Secondary School: A design was done for the same location in Sandy Bay.  The volcanic eruptions caused a rethink of location; the people suggested a premier site at Orange Hill.  The TVA Consultants were awarded the contract for Design and Supervision of the construction for the modern Sandy Bay Secondary School.  The preliminary designs and costings were submitted on May 3, 2024.  Upon approval of these designs, a tender for construction will proceed.  It is expected that a construction contract will be awarded in September 2024.  The construction will take some 15 months.  The cost will be somewhere between EC$12 to 15 million.

Final comment

The above is further evidence prompting the people to say: “ULP for SVG, always”!

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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