Cacadu and Metro Schools scheduled for 225 new classrooms

Elza van Lingen, MP

DA Leader, National Council of Provinces

There is good news for the overcrowded schools lacking classrooms to accommodate all the learners in the Eastern Cape, especially in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Cacadu District.

The Department of Education and Department of Public Works are planning to complete 225 new pre-fabricated classrooms at 58 schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and in the Cacadu District in the current financial year.

The much needed classroom allocation to schools in the various municipalities, specific cities or towns are:

* Port Elizabeth with 20 schools receiving 93 classrooms;

* Uitenhage where 11 schools are receiving 41 classrooms;

* Kouga region with 8 schools receiving 37 classrooms;

* Grahamstown region where 6 schools are due for 26 classrooms;

* Koukamma region with 6 schools receiving 21 classrooms;

* Port Alfred where 2 schools will receive with 10 classrooms;

* Sundays River Valley where 3 schools benefit with 2 projects completed with 21 classrooms and a further 7 to follow at another school;

* Somerset East a single school will receive 3 classrooms; and

* Nieu Bethesda with one school receiving 3 classrooms.

Tenders of this multimillion-rand project of the Department of Education were awarded to only 3 contractors. Park Homes was awarded a single contract for 7 classrooms in Grahamstown and Kwikspace, two contracts for 19 classrooms – one in Addo (16 classrooms) and one in Port Alfred (4 classrooms). E-Kwikbuild, a subsidiary of Lonro, was awarded the remaining 55 projects of an estimated R70 million.

About 35 of the projects are completed or near completion with a few snags such as water tanks at 12 schools still to be installed. Toilets are to be completed in three cases. Most of these contracts were awarded in March 2012 and are between 88% & 100% completed but subject to final inspections.

There are a few major problems at three schools where contracts were awarded in March last year with very little progress made. John Masiza Primary School in Walmer Township (NMBM) is one of the headaches where only 15% progress has been made.

At the Sandwater Primary School in Oyster Bay (Kouga) only 5% of the work has been started with. The construction at the Pellsrus Primary School (Kouga) is due for an inspection with only 60% of the work approved. Although these projects will be discussed at the next meeting which the two departments will hold with the contractors on 22 January (Tuesday), the Democratic Alliance will follow up on the issues raised with us.

At 18 schools where these contracts were handed over to the contractors, during or after October 2012 – some even as late as 11 December 2012. Some of the projects started in October 2012 are on schedule or nearing completion. The remaining sites were handed over to the contractors, but very little or no work has been done yet. These projects will also be discussed with the contractors at the meeting in East London scheduled for 22 January 2013.

This latter group is where school principals and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) are calling for support in an effort to find solutions to commitments made for classrooms by the Department for Education for delivery in the financial year ending in March 2012. There is a critical shortage of classrooms at schools in Kouga and Koukamma, which contributed to the woes of education in the area.

The DA will request a full report from the Department of Education through Edmund van Vuuren, DA MPL and member of the Portfolio Committee for Education and we will:

* Support the schools to secure delivery of these classrooms before the end of March this year;

* Ensure that all snags are rectified;

* Those projects with the real issues are urgently addressed;

* Ensure that the Eastern Cape and learners from our region do not lose out on any of this funding due to non-delivery.

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