Ongoing repairs to sections of the hurricane-ravaged Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) Road Town campus have suffered a number of setbacks and will no longer be ready for September 2018, Education Minister Myron Walwyn has said.
It is now being projected to be completed within the first term of next academic year, which starts in September.
The Education Ministry is repairing the L-shaped building at ESHS’ Road Town campus so senior students can return to that location while junior students remain at the de facto Pasea Estate school campus.
“It was our hope that we would have gotten this building repaired for September 2018, but there is an inordinate amount of technical work that has to be done,” Minister Walwyn said.
“Despite the Ministry’s commitment to the ESHS rehabilitation, there are several challenges and time-consuming procedures that have posed a threat to the September 2018 [target],” he explained.
The education minister made the statement this week while delivering another of his updates on the overall progress of territorial education.
Electrical system destroyed
The 2017 hurricanes destroyed the school’s electrical system and the main feed has to be replaced.
Walwyn said panels, wiring, lights and fixtures also need replacing on all four floors of the L-shaped building before it becomes student-ready.
“We have taken a holistic approach to the rebuilding of the L-shaped building at ESHS and have formally sought the assistance of the Ministry of Finance in making a request for the repair work at ESHS to be added into the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Loan package,” he said.
Walwyn further said sourcing doors and windows have proved to be another stumbling block.
“Under the CDB loan guideline, procurement of material must be from a member country which does not include the United States of America and Puerto Rico – countries from which most goods in the Virgin Islands are imported from.”
CDB loan ‘vigorous’
Walwyn said the loan package with the CDB is a very vigorous and time-consuming process.
He said a number of processes have to be done such as selecting a consultant who is responsible for thorough inspection and assessment of the building and documentation for the proposed restoration project scope.
Construction documents such as a bill of quantities and cost estimates for all infrastructural works need to be prepared, and must also be in accordance with internationally recognized codes and standards.
Other requirements include a tendering process which could take at least six weeks to complete. There is also another process which involves selecting and negotiating contracts for the project.
However, Walwyn noted that significant progress in these endeavours has been made so far. He said ongoing work includes demolition, electrical and plumbing works, purchasing and installing windows and doors, replacing classroom partitions, painting, and general cleanup of the campus area.
Repair work a matter of urgency
Walwyn said making the school ready is urgent to him. He said once the L-shaped is repaired, students will return to a full day of school.
The minister then reiterated his government’s commitment to providing a comfortable environment conducive to learning for all students.
He also expressed his gratitude to members of the public for their patience as the education sector rebuilds in the aftermath of the 2017 catastrophic hurricanes.
“As the minister, I am very pleased with the progress that we have made and I want to assure you the public that we will continue to do our best,” he said.
“I have signalled the urgency of this matter to all who will listen and you have my commitment that I will be watching this project very closely,” he added.
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