Faulty 8M Kato Secondary School
– Patterson says project was “poorly executed”
Following numerous reports and evidence of shoddy work done on the Kato Secondary School project, the contracting company, Kares Engineering Inc has spoken out, saying that no complaint of substandard work was made when the building was completed and handed over to Government.
The school, which was built at a cost of $728.1 million, has jarring evidence of poor construction. During a media tour on Wednesday at the school in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), it was seen that the walls and flooring were cracked, termites had infected the wood, and cheap materials were used to build rooms.
According to Kares Engineering, in a lengthy statement on Thursday, the school was built to rigid specifications set out by the Government of Guyana and the project was completed within budget, accepted and received by Government without complaints.
The company noted that the controversy over the past weeks has “taken a deliberate, in our opinion, political slant and we, as an engineering firm, want to clarify the engineering issues without delving into the political nuances”.
The company clarified that it never received $1 billion as is being claimed and, in fact, it was owed $66 million. It was noted that the original cost of the project was $728 million, but only $662 million was paid over to the contractor.
According to Kares, the building meets and in many cases, exceeds the contract specifications, which were accepted by the supervising consultant. It noted too that all specifications and changes in the design or materials were made by Government.
“Kares Engineering made no independent decision to change or alter any specification. Kares Engineering is confident that the school will pass a compression strength test, the standard for concrete testing. The company is disputing the conflicting Schmidt Hammer readings, both the Public Infrastructure Ministry and the independent contracting firm results show vastly conflicting readings with differences as high as 2920 PSI. The company added that it passed 22 of 24 structural tests conducted by the Ministry and it was after this that an “independent” test was ordered.
Moreover, Kares further outlined that the building was still under warranty for termite treatment and would be so for five years from the date of the contract completion.
Furthermore, the company stated that Government has never officially notified or requested the engineering firm to correct any works.
“To date Kares Engineering is not in receipt of a complaint or request for corrective works. The defects liability period was left to expire, without request for correction. The building was under warranty and corrections could have been made. The Government requested none. There are no structural cracks in the building. The building has a few cracks, which is common to concrete structures and could have been corrected under the defects liability period. This was never requested,” the company maintained.
During the visit on Wednesday, residents in the area had complained that they were promised a wage of $7000 per day, but were only paid $2500 per day, of which $1200 was deducted each day for meals. However, the company denied this, saying that $9000 was higher than wages paid to similarly unskilled workers in Georgetown.
Nevertheless, Kares Engineering said, like everyone else, it wanted to ensure that the children of Kato got to use the much-needed school, noting that the delays was also holding up the hydropower project promised to the Region through European Union funding.
“Our company always has our client’s best interest in mind; as a result, we propose … to remedy any issue,” the release outlined.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has placed the extremely defective Kato Secondary School high on the agenda for projects to be completed, and it could cost the Government another $140 million to fix.
Patterson told the National Assembly on Thursday that both the contractor and the consultant defended themselves, claiming that they were pressured by members of the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration to complete constructions by the 2015 General Elections. He made this statement during his presentation of the Technical Audit Report on the Kato School by Rodrigues Architects Ltd.
Managing Director of Rodrigues Architects Ltd, Albert Rodrigues had stated that the project was flawed from the design phase.
Stating the works were substandard, Patterson indicated that 50 per cent of the concrete testing failed. Nevertheless, he noted that the Ministry remained committed to correcting the deficiencies and would ensure that when an audit into the repair project commenced, it would be laid before the Parliament for scrutiny.
The school, which was constructed to house 400 students, has been deemed unsafe and it has been advised that it should not be opened for the new school term in September. According to Rodrigues, it would take six months to fix the defects.
However, Kares Engineering says it remains committed to the project and “is prepared to meet with the Government of Guyana to discuss issues with the building and how they can be resolved”.
According to the company’s statement, “Kares Engineering is prepared to fix defects which should have been identified under the defects liability period and to remedy those that are applicable despite the fact that the liability period has expired.” Kato Toshao Clifton Pereira has stated that the residents were anxious for the school’s opening since the Paramakatoi Secondary School was severely overcrowded. He indicated that students were being forced to attend schools as far away as Sand Creek, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo)