(CNS): Government is currently in the process of surveying the John Gray High School construction site as it makes plans to restart the work on the project, which has been stalled for more than three years. Speaking to the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, Christen Suckoo who will be confirmed as the ministry’s chief officer on Monday, said government was working on the strategic outline case, which will lead to the outline business case and the policy justification for returning to the job.
Suckoo was one of six witnesses that attended the PAC Thursday to answer questions on the report by the Office of the Auditor General on the construction of the government high schools and the extension of four primary schools. As well as setting out the history of the projects and answering the concerns of the committee about what had gone wrong, Suckoo revealed where the education ministry was at present with the much needed new George Town school.
Given the catalogue of problems that surrounded the high school development projects, the economic difficulties and government’s shortage of cash, no work has taken place at the now overgrown site. Suckoo said that the amount of remedial work that would be required was currently being assessed in order to inform the next steps.
He revealed that the project would be restarted in phases and the contracts would be tendered in separate packages, with the first expected to be the gymnasium building. Suckoo said there may be a redesign of some parts of the school to address the problems which were encountered at the Clifton Hunter High School. He also warned of more ongoing challenges and the reluctance of contractors to get involved, given the long list of historical problems.
But the new chief officer did his best to reassure the committee that the ministry had learned many lessons regarding the projects and that going forward things would be done differently. He said there was now a steering committee in place to oversee the project and its own dedicated project manager from the newly established Central Projects Office at the Public Works Department. Suckoo was confident that things would follow the process and they would not make the same mistakes again as they plan for and begin the work again at the school site.
The ministry is also beginning the strategic work to consider the proposed redevelopment of the hurricane shelter, nicknamed the ‘Hurricane Hilton’, on Cayman Brac’s Bluff into a new school there. While that remains in the early stages of discussion, if it goes ahead it will be overseen by the same steering committee and project manager, Suckoo said.
Check back to CNS later for more from PAC and revelations from the former minister.