Learners still in asbestos classrooms

2018-02-15 06:01
=Principal Patrick Korkee at the 1952 “Plankiesskool” with asbestos classrooms.

=Principal Patrick Korkee at the 1952 “Plankiesskool” with asbestos classrooms.

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Roads and Public Works MEC Thandiswa Marawu must urgently investigate alleged unauthorised expenditure of at least R6-million that was paid to a contractor of the still uncompleted Jubilee Park Primary School in Uitenhage.

This is according to a media statement issued by Vicky Knoetze (MPL) Shadow MEC for Roads and Public Works.

“Learners are still in asbestos and prefab structures, despite the appointment of a contractor by the Department of Roads and Public Works in August 2014,” said Knoetze.

“The original completion date was October 2016. It was then moved to March 2017, then to July 2017, followed by September 2017. At this stage, the completion date is April 2018.”

On investigation, the Democratic Alliance found out that the contractor has not been on site since November last year and only returned recently with a small staff complement.

“In terms of documentation received, the reason that no work had been done since last year was that the contractor allegedly claimed an additional R6-million for a 58-day delay. It was claimed the delay was due to labour unrest and local labour strikes, which entitles the contractor to an adjustment.

“However, according to a mediator’s report, the contractor was entitled to an amount of only R649 000,” said Knoetze.

According to reports, the department paid the R6-million without waiting for the mediator’s report. The fact that the Department paid an amount of over R5.3-million more than what is stipulated in the mediator’s report is indicative of gross negligence, resulting in a massive amount of unauthorised expenditure as this was never part of the contract.

“It has transpired that the contractor is allegedly also claiming additional funds in connection with the R6-million settlement, of almost R1-million.

“It is also alleged that the contractor is demanding that penalties incurred of almost R2-million be reversed,” said Knoetze.

She said it is unacceptable that learners have to sit in prefabs and asbestos buildings and that they deserve more.

According to Jubilee Park Primary principal, Patrick Korkee, the 1338 learners for the past four years have been attending school in double shifts, from 08:00 to 12:00 and 12:00 to 16:00.

“Being at school for only 4 hours a day is not ideal. It does affect the learners’ academic achievements. It is impossible to complete curricula in such a short time compared to the normal 7 hours,” said Korkee.

The prefabs and asbestos class rooms date back to 1952 and during 2012 a total of 11 of these old classrooms were destroyed by a fire.

“We are looking forward to moving to the new state-of-the-art classrooms and continuing our education as per the norm,” said Korkee. -HEILIE COMBRINCK

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