Slippery tiles at the Scarborough Roman Catholic School will be replaced in a matter of time as a solution has been decided upon, Chief Secretary and Secretary of Education Kelvin Charles said at last Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing at the conference room of the Division of Tourism.
Reports are that a few students and one teacher have slid and fallen on the tiles which get slippery when wet, as on occasions when rain falls. Classes at the school have also had to be dismissed early on occasions because heavy rainfall causes flooding of classrooms.
Charles told reporters last Wednesday that a particular situation has been decided on and that it was just a matter of time before the tiles were changed.
“The solution is that we would remove the tiles and replace them with another kind of material. In addition, we have to put up some awnings to restrict the water depending on the wind, but we have agreed on the solution and it is just a matter of time,” he said.
“That solution, I was persuaded was the more fundamental solution, but it requires a material coming from abroad, but I was told that that could give us some years’ guarantee and that has to do with the tile,” he added.
The school, on Smithfield Road in Scarborough was built at a cost of $83 million, Charles had said at the was commissioning on August 29. He said then the school was OSHA compliant and easily accessible for the differently abled, as well as being the first of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago with three storeys and 27 classrooms to accommodate 750 students, a staff room, a computer room, a cafeteria, sick bay, a library, a chapel and an elevator.
Asked last Wednesday about the costs of repair work, Charles said:
“There is something called retention within construction and during that snag list period that they talk about, in some instances six months or a year, it is usually replaced at the cost of the contractor.
“In this particular case, what I have agreed to is if the replacement of the tile by tile would have cost X but the material coming from abroad costs Z, and the difference between Z and X is Y, Y being greater than X, then we as the Education Division would take up that cost. So, we’re not taking up the entire cost of Z, we’re taking up between X and Z, Z being greater than X. It might be a $1 million- something for the ones coming in… once they come in and we do the job and repair it, then I would be able to give figures,” he said.
It was previously reported that the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL), project manager for construction of the school, had decided to use an epoxy-based formula to give the tiles at the school traction to prevent future slipping incidents.
On October 12, Caroni East MP and a former Education Minister, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, had queried a $95 million cost for the school.
Describing the $95 million price tag as "madness," Gopeesingh raised the issue with Finance Minister Colm Imbert during consideration of expenditure for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) at the Standing Finance Committee in Parliament.
Asking whether the total cost was going to be $95 million - after $75 million was spent in 2017, $14 million in 2018 and $6 million to be spent in 2019, he said:
"Ninety-five million dollars for a primary school, honourable minister? When we (the previous administration) built them in Trinidad for $17 million and $15 million? To bring 650 students in a school? This is madness."
In response, Imbert said the school had already been opened and the $6 million was just to deal with the final account.
Gopeesingh said: "So the cost is how much minister?"
Imbert replied: "I can give you details on what the $6 million will be spent on."