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Saturday 15 August, 2020

Ministry rubbishes 'misleading claims' over Fanny Village school

Teachers and parents of students at the Fanny Village Government Primary School are being assured that they have not been forgotten as the Education Ministry continues to work toward delivering a new school.

The Education Ministry on Saturday responded to claims made by former education minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh about the status and amount of money spent on the school.

The Ministry said it was clarifying any “misleading information” that may be circulating in the public sphere as a result of these claims.

By Terms of Reference dated September 2005, the Ministry mandated the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) provide project management, designs, construction services and outfitting 21 replacement government primary schools of which Fanny Village Government Primary School was included.

A contract was awarded by EFCL to Ashana Civil Mechanical Contracting Limited in July 2008 in the sum of $39,454,887.79 for a package consisting of Cap-de-Vile Government Primary, Fanny Village Primary and Fanny Village ECCEC.

Progress was hampered by slow and inadequate supply of design related information to the contractor by Design Consultant, Claude A. Benjamin and Associates (Lead Consultant), and also negatively affected by a large number of variations caused by design and scope changes issued by the Design Consultants. Claude A. Benjamin and Associates were terminated in November 2009.

Vikab Engineering Consultants Ltd. (VIKAB) was then engaged as new Lead Consultant. In 2011 all EFCL contracts for design and supervisory consultants were terminated and two new and separate contracts were awarded to VIKAB for consultancy services in relation to the design and supervision of the Fanny Village Government Primary School.

VIKAB’s 15 month contract ended in July 2012 but they continued as Lead Consultant (sanctioned by (EFCL) until the contract was terminated in May 2013.

In July 2014, the EFCL contracted CEP Limited as Consultants for the re-commencement of construction work for the project.

CEP presented two options as the way forward. Firstly, structural retrofitting of all existing structural members at an estimated cost of $33,400,000.00. Secondly, restricting all blocks to single storey buildings, limited structural retrofitting and redesign of the roofs to make them lighter. This option was estimated to cost $27,700,000.

The EFCL selected the second option and awarded a contract to Construction Supplies and Services Limited (CSSL) for the completion of the school on April 16, 2015.  The initial value of this contract was $19,100,000 VAT Excl. To date, the contractor has submitted claims for additional costs valued at $8,496,702.50 VAT excl., which have not yet been evaluated by EFCL.  This contractor subsequently suspended works in October 2015.

The Ministry also noted that Ministers of Education Anthony Garcia and Dr Lovell Francis along with Point Fortin MP Edmund Dillon visited the site where they had the opportunity to meet with staff of the school and members of the community who expressed amazement that construction was being undertaken on a site which was once a riverbed.

The Ministry promised transparency as it moves toward securing adequate and comfortable spaces for all students to develop holistically.

“With the vacation repair program now underway in many schools around the country, the parents and teachers of Fanny Village Government Primary School are reminded that they have not been forgotten and the Ministry continues to work tirelessly to deliver their permanent home,” the Ministry concluded.

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