The $1B Westminster Secondary School currently being constructed at La Parfaite Harmony, Region Three (Essequibo Island- West Demerara), is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
This was confirmed by the Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, yesterday after a site visit was conducted by the Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson, and other officials.
The contract for the construction of the school was awarded to R. Bassoo and Sons Construction Company on October 1, 2018, by the former Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry.
Works began on the school in the same month and were expected to last for 15 months, meaning that the school was supposed to see completion in January 2020.
However, it was stated that several factors resulted in the deadline being missed.
Nevertheless, Manickchand had assured last month that the works will be completed by the deadline, stressing that the government has a zero-tolerance policy on delayed works.
The Minister had also warned that the incompletion has hampered hundreds of children and the COVID-19 pandemic would not be a reasonable excuse for such since it started in March, after the deadline.
The construction of the school fell under the Guyana Secondary School Education Improvement Project (GSEIP), funded by the World Bank.
Guyana received a total of $1.8B for the construction of two schools; the Westminster Secondary School and the Good Hope Secondary School on the East Coast of Demerara in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).
The People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) had designed the project and secured the funds since 2014, according to Manickchand.
The nearly completed Westminster School is expected to meet international standards and will accommodate 1,000 students.
The school will feature classrooms that cater to children with disabilities and modern Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) departments for Home Economics; Home Management and Clothing and Textiles.
Further, it was stated that it will also have Information Technology; Mathematics; Language and Audio Visual; Biology; Chemistry and Physics laboratories, an Allied Arts unit, a modern library, a multi-purpose hall, and a modern administration block.
”Added to that, when completed, the new state-of-the-art school will see the reduction of secondary departments in primary schools (Primary Tops) in the region.
Students will be drawn from La Grange, L’Aventure, Goed Fortuin, and other areas within that catchment area, the Education Minister had said.
The Good Hope Secondary School contract was awarded to a different contractor, BK International Incorporated, and that too was expected to be completed in January this year.
The school is still incomplete, with the building expected to be handed over in August 2021.
The Education Minister had stated that the delay is “wholly unacceptable”, stressing that persons who bid for contracts and win them must ensure that they do what is necessary and realize the terms they have signed on to in the contract.
BK International Inc, along with Courtney Benn Contracting Services, recently had their contracts for works on two schools terminated by the government. The contracts totalled to $1.1B and were terminated after years passed and a significant portion of the works was still incomplete.