EDUCATION Minister Anthony Garcia promised a probe into the plumbing at Couva West Secondary School, as he ventured to blame recurrent water leaks on slipshod workmanship and/or sabotage.
At a briefing on Tuesday at his ministry in Port of Spain, he said most of the country’s 700 schools had reopened after the July-August vacation, but spelt out the woes arising at three.
Garcia said WASA and the ministry have been working together to fix leaks at the Couva school.
“But as soon as the leaks are repaired, something else happens. There have been some very strange occurrences that leave us in a state of bewilderment.
“This was like a recurring decimal.”
He said last Sunday WASA had said all leaks were fixed, but when school openedon Monday leaks had begun, as listed in a report by his ministry’s engineering assistant.
Garcia said a leak near the agriculture block had been probed by excavation.
“There is a twoinch water line and instead of having the (plastic) cap at the end of the line, mortar was put there to fill that gap. So you’ll understand that when water pressure is increased, that mortar would have been washed away.”
He spelt out another instance. “Boulders were placed under the lines, and because of the weight of the soil, those lines were ruptured. In another case of a leak, there was a big boulder placed on top of a joint which cracked the joint.”
In another case an improvised cap was made from a piece of two-inch pipe wrapped in polythene.
“I’m not going to make any pronouncements with respect to sabotage or any act that was deliberate, but it is necessary for us to bring this to the attention of the public.”
He was unable to give the name of the contractor who had done the plumbing.
Rather than responding to each new leak, Newsday asked if he would do a full review of the whole plumbing system. Garcia said the ministry does not have the school’s plumbing plans.
Garcia said he had spoken to Anglican Bishop Claude Berkeley about Fyzabad Anglican School, where parents protested on Monday over school conditions.
He said the school has not been closed but admitted its central block is now unsafe for pupils to occupy, being a 60-year-old wooden structure. His ministry’s Wayne Cupid (director of the Educational Facilities Planning and Procurement Division) is looking at measures for housing pupils.
Garcia also said Carapichaima AC School was now unsuitable because of its great age. Pupils are now daily bussed to California Primary School, whose enrolment is just 100 pupils out of its 840-pupil capacity, so there is room for the Carapichaima pupils. However pupils have had some transport problems because too few maxi taxis have been sourced by the PTSC and the two school sites are far apart.
Garcia said on Monday he had spoken to the vice-chairman off the University of TT, who offered the Carapichaima pupils use of a UTT building near their school. He reckoned the required refurbishment could be done this school term, before the new year.