$8.9 million for school repairs
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Extensive school repairs being conducted at government schools will be completed for the beginning of the new academic year, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday.
“We are very confident with the contractors selected,” he told the media yesterday.
“They are very seasoned, very experienced, very capable, very well resourced and are able to do the work, and get the work done in time.”
Members of the Cabinet along with the media and members of the Bahamas Union of Teachers toured four government schools — C.H. Reeves Junior High School, C.I. Gibson, L.W. Young and D.W. Davis Jr. High School.
The schools have undergone significant repairs over the last month.
During the tour poles were still exposed, some classrooms were still under construction and the balconies were still being outfitted.
Lloyd said the nine contractors selected have assured him the repairs will be completed.
Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, who also toured the schools yesterday, said that the buildings were old and it was understandable that such extreme renovations were needed.
When asked about contingency plans in the event the schools were not ready in time, Lloyd said, “There is no such thing as if it [will] finish in time.
“The contractors have assured us, the engineers have assured us, [and] the project managers have assured us that these projects will be completed in time.”
Notwithstanding the assurances, the minister said the government has considered the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. For instance, a natural disaster.
“Maybe a hurricane passes that may delay us for a couple of days,” he said.
“Naturally the government has contingencies in those events.
“And these contractors; because of their experience,; because of their capability and competencies, they know that there may be some delays.
“That’s why they have factored in those considerations and they can give us those assurances.”
However, BUT President Belinda Wilson did not share Lloyd’s confidence.
While walking the grounds of D.W. Davis, Wilson said she was not optimistic, “that in three week’s time when schools reopen these schools will be ready.”
She said she has requested for maintenance teams to be present yearly at each school.
However, Bannister said that was not practical and would cost taxpayers.
“It’s not a practical thing to keep a full team in every school,” he said.
“It doesn’t make economic sense for the country, for you as taxpayer.
“So, what we do in the Ministry of Public Works, we have a team of air conditioning specialists; we have a team of plumbers; we have a team of carpenters; we have full teams and where there are challenges in the schools they come out and work in the schools.”
Wilson said she plans to further discuss the matter with the minister in hopes of reaching a happy medium.
Lloyd indicated that approximately $8.9 million is being spent on the renovations at the schools.
When asked whether the budget allocation for repairs was sufficient, Lloyd told media that where there is a need for additional money, the ministry had a plan.