Repairs at government schools are going along smoothly, to the satisfaction of key government officials.
Recently Minister of State in the Grand Bahama Office of the Prime Minister, Senator J. Kwasi Thompson; Minister of Disaster Preparedness Iram Lewis; and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Michael Pintard, took part in a tour of the schools and interacted with contractors.
Following extensive tours of Hugh Campbell Primary, Maurice Moore Primary and Jack Hayward Junior High School, the trio spoke with the media and expressed their thoughts on work completed thus far.
Minister Thompson expressed: “Today we saw the progress that is being done on our schools. As the public is aware, we had tremendous damage to our schools on Grand Bahama. We had roof damages, classrooms that were flooded, and today we saw the transformation. We are very pleased with the progress that has been made.
“At Hugh Campbell Primary, we saw that they have a completely new roof and we have seen where they have done a massive amount of painting, interior work, and, the students will come in and see a brand new roof; a brand new school on the outside, and also on the inside.
“Maurice Moore, as persons would have known, would have been one of the schools that was heaviest hit by the hurricane and was completely flooded out. Today we saw that there is a brand new roof now on Maurice Moore; the interior of those classes will also be completely renovated. We are pleased with the progress that the contractors have been making. We believe that this will be ready for school,” he added.
Noting that many of the schools will be used as possible hurricane shelters, Thompson said that he was indeed pleased that roof works to many of them were near completion.
“One good thing that we have seen also is that the roof work has been done very quickly and that is important because if there is a hurricane that comes, particularly, with respect to Hugh Campbell, Jack Hayward High, and Maurice Moore, we would be able to be in a position to use these as hurricane shelters because the outside has been completely done and the roof work really has been done.
“We are very pleased in terms of the work that has been done (thus far). We want to first of all praise the Ministry of Education, which has been leading the charge. Also, the Minister of Disaster and Reconstruction (Iram Lewis) has been doing a wonderful job of monitoring, and, obviously the Office of the Prime Minister also has been facilitating the repairs.
Minister Lewis further expressed that it is very important to note that the objective of the renovations is to build back stronger and more resilient.
“We are indeed rebuilding and I want to focus on the word resilient. What existed prior to Dorian, we had the regular asphalt shingles on the roofs. Those shingles, that remained behind after Dorian were further stripped by the contractors. In removing the regular asphalt shingles, any level of damage to the plywood decking that was discovered was removed. We have asked the contractors to build back stronger by not only using nails but also screws to ensure that they are fastened to the rafter system even better.
“We are not replacing the asphalt shingles with regular asphalt shingles; we are now using a heavier architectural asphalt shingles.
“As Minister Thompson spoke about earlier, we are looking at using these schools as possible hurricane shelters and so we are building back better and stronger. Based on our new protocols, we are ensuring that these buildings are now transformed to suite COVID-19 protocols and whatever needs we may have down the line.
“We want to say thank you to all of the contractors and to the project team led by Mr. Burton Milller who is doing a wonderful job. As Minister Thompson indicated, we are on the sites on a regular basis ensuring that it is done, built better so that in the future we will have less issues with respect to destruction by natural disasters.
“We expect that the work will be finished in a timely manner. Even though it will be done in a timely manner we will not compromise quality, and we will ensure that the Bahamas Building Codes are abided by,” said Lewis.
Minister Pintard, also the Member of Parliament for Marco City, also thanked all parties involved for the tremendous work that is being completed to the schools that are within his constituency.
“I want to also mention that the Minister of Education, Minister (Jeff) Lloyd and myself have made a commitment to ensure that hydroponic and aquaponic systems are in the schools throughout Grand Bahama.
“This tour gave me an opportunity to once again look at locations that may be appropriate on where the locations would be for the majority of the schools. Before we open in September we will have hydroponic systems in a number of the schools throughout Grand Bahama.
“We have already made commitments to several principals for aquaponic systems. I just want to applaud the Principals, not just for Maurice Moore, but for all of the schools, and the teachers, who have been extremely diligent; who have done a remarkable job during this COVID period and in the aftermath of Dorian.
“We want to reassure them that the government is absolutely committed to working with them and on their behalf and, by extension on behalf of the students. Marco City has the largest compliment of schools, and so I want to say to all of the teachers, especially, that we are so appreciative of the work that you have done and, to all of the parents, to encourage you to participate in this upcoming school year, in the PTA Meetings.
“You are the primary educators of your children, the teachers, principals and administrators really augment the work that you have been doing. God bless you; despite the difficult times in Grand Bahama, keep the faith,” Pintard concluded.