Re-construction efforts at the Antigua State College (ASC) are expected to begin once major capital injection is granted to fix the overwhelming number of problems affecting the institution.
On Wednesday – after the Facilities Manager at the Ministry of Education, Oral Evanson, and a team of contractors visited the Golden Grove campus to assess the facilities – Evanson told OBSERVER about some of the problems he observed.
“The first thing they had was consistent water issues. Last week I changed the pump so I think they should be okay with the water issue now,” he said.
“As it pertains to the administrative building, there are several things that need to be done, but it needs major capital injection. The entire roof system needs to be replaced, as it is the cause of most of the issues, and the metal sheeting on the roof has corroded to the point where it’s leaking. That leak has travelled down into the ceiling and the mould has become an issue with the people.”
Over the past three days the administrative staff and other workers at the college have protested the deplorable working conditions and voiced concerns about their health.
Evanson said other issues will be addressed over time, once construction bids are made.
“In terms of safety, there is need for a ramp or emergency staircase that goes to the second floor. The Engineering Department is in need of a functional bathroom. I have contacted contractors, so I am waiting for bids,” he said. “I brought contractors to understand the scope of work and then they give me a cost based on the scope of work, so hopefully that will be completed by the end of the week.”
He said lack of repairs on the 40-year-old building and the issue of financing will be major factors in the timing of those repairs.
“This is an old building where no repairs have been done over the years; so there are major repairs to be done, but it is dependent on money. We will have to first put a cost together before we can see where we are getting the money from. There is not nothing that is cosmetic that can be done overnight; everything to be repaired is major,” Evanson said.
Demonstrating staff have already stated that they will not end their protest action until major repairs have been completed.
Meanwhile, at Cabinet on Wednesday, Minister of Works Lennox Weston told ministers that continued re-building and re-construction of the Antigua State College will begin once repairs to the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital have been completed.
Recently, Weston and the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Works, Clarence Pilgrim, toured a number of sites – Clarevue Hospital, the Transport Board where the All Saints Magistrate Court is to be temporarily relocated, the new premises for the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) on Newgate Street, and the Barrymore Hotel – to assess the repairs needed at each location.
As we were about to wrap up this edition, The Daily OBSERVER received word of a complete shutdown at ASC, with administrative and auxiliary staff decided to intensify their strike against the continued deplorable conditions.
Sources told us because the cleaners are also not working, the entire school plant is littered with garbage and toilets are left unflushed, resulting in overpowering stenches and an environment not conducive to working.
The prevailing drought conditions and consequent water shortages have obviously not helped.