Repairs to a number of public schools across New Providence are underway and all major work is expected to be completed ahead of the start of the new school year, according to Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald, who yesterday gave an update on the ongoing works project.
Mr. Fitzgerald said that contracts to carry out repairs to the public schools were awarded to a number of contractors who had been disengaged during the last administration.
“I am ecstatic that we were able to, in New Providence alone, add approximately 20 new contractors at the ministry,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “It is important to note that some 47 of the 74 contractors have not had any work from the ministry for the last five years. By doing so, we have empowered these contractors and given them an opportunity to be reengaged in the construction field where in some cases they have indicated that they have not worked in many years.”
“My ministry will continue to ensure the widest possible participation of small and medium-sized contractors engaged in the ministry’s maintenance, minor repairs and capital works.”
The minister said while he was pleased to have more contracts awarded to new contractors, ensuring that the level of work met the ministry’s standards remained paramount.
“Basically, the Ministry of Works has agreed to hold off on paying out any monies if it finds a contractor’s work does not meet its standards,” he said.
Mr. Fitzgerald said this summer the government will spend more than $4 million to carry out repairs to the nation’s public schools.
This amount, the minister said, is more than $1 million more than what was allocated in the 2012/2013 Budget and he explained that this money came from funds in the previous budget that were not used.
He said that particular attention is being given to those schools that were extensively damaged last year during Hurricane Irene.
“Approximately $4.5 million will be spent on school repairs this summer and we estimate this will have provided employment for about 800 people over the summer; 400 in New Providence, 200 in Grand Bahama and 200 throughout the Family Islands,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
“The extra $1.3 million will go a long way in addressing some much needed repairs particularly in those Family Islands which are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Irene last September.”
The minister said that $3.2 million has been allocated for repairs to schools in New Providence and $650,000 for work to schools throughout the Family Islands.
The government has allocated $600,000 for Grand Bahama – a 25 per cent increase in the amount it received last year, which Mr. Fitzgerald said is due to the poor physical condition of a number of schools on that island.
The minister, who recently completed a month-long tour of schools across the country, said that its goal is to visit 95 per cent of the country’s 164 public schools before the summer is complete.