John Gray project crawling forward towards re-start

| 02/10/2015 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

John Gray High School construction site

(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.

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Category: development, Education, Government oversight, Local News, Politics

Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS: Can you ask them what they are planning on doing with what was supposed to be the new PWD building on the bluff? There are a lot of cement blocks there going to waste.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not bashing the development of a new school, but let’s look at Clifton Hunter HS. That high school is a modern state-of-the-art facility that cost heaploads upon heaploads of money to build…and still ended up getting an unsatisfactory grade in the latest school inspection reports and lest we forget the design impracticalities the facility has now encountered.

    Let’s look at the Layman E. Scott Sr. High School on Cayman Brac. A 50-year-old facility that is falling apart, and that school got a good grade in the latest school inspection reports. That high school is perhaps the most dilapidated and underfunded one in the Cayman Islands, but yet in continues to achieve so much with so little. So it is not the facility but the quality of the teaching that makes the difference. Nuff said!

    • Anonymous says:

      04/10/2015 at 9;16am
      Please do not compare apples and oranges! What is the ratio between Teachers and students at the Layman E Scott High School on Cayman Brac? There is the same pool of teachers there as there are on Grand Cayman. Aquick comparision will reveal that the teacher to student ration is far less. The statistics will also show that when this is the case (low student to teacher ratio) children generally perform at a higher level and achieve more.

      It is not necessarily about the buildings of the school.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Its all ruined anyways all that rebar is rusting and will swell and bust the concrete in no time and then in a few years extensive renovations will be needed

    • Jose says:

      Thank you Mr Suckoo this project like all big projects undertaken by the new CIG will be done properly ….imagine the port airport and landfill projects all progressing and in accordance with best practise. Thank you Premier and Deputy Governor

  4. Anonymous says:

    Will some of the past minister’s side time construction companies be involved again?
    This needs to watched very closely and forget the buddy system!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Pitiful!! This project was started and not completed by the PPM in their last administration, nor completed by the UDP which followed and now PPM is seeking to complete it? There should be no congratulations if they finally complete it – it’s their duty!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    “Learnt some lessons”??? They are the freakin government…openness, transparency-not on these projects…If they need to learn lessons, they are not the people to have on the job.

    • Jameal says:

      You mean just like the banks didn’t know they would run our of US dollars..private sector is getting worse …government way ahead.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The same thing will happen with the Cruise Berthing. Massive amounts of money will be wasted, causing the cost of living to rise to detrimental levels (we’re practically there already) and no return on investment. Just watch.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Christen, assuming you have a very competent project manager and knowledgeable, sensible members, follow the “steering committee” approach consistently and keep the politicians out of the mix as much as possible and you will complete the project successfully. It has been done before-ask Max Jones.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How about awarding this to a smaller contractor who can make this contract their sole focus rather than a large contractor who is looking for a pay day while juggling with other large jobs?

    • Anonymous says:

      How did that process work out when it was used for the Turtle Farm redevelopment? Have a look at how that process worked when the UDP took over and used it to finish CHHS.
      Smaller contractors should get involved as specific sub-contractors under the supervision of the main responsible contractor.

  10. Critic Al Thinker says:

    Might as well just pick all the crap that’s already there up and start throwing it in the harbour for fill.

  11. Sunk Cost Phallus says:

    Never saw a grand taxpayer funded project they couldn’t say no to. So easy to fritter away the public purse. Yes, yes, yes! Do it again!

  12. Anonymous says:

    “…currently in the process of assisting teachers with pay adjustments or …currently in the process of surveying” it’s all the same rhetoric. As a parent of a John Gray student, I would like to see a timeline on the new school build in order to be convinced that it is really going to happen before my daughter’s graduation!

    • Foster Bushconnell Ebanks says:

      “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”

      Sounds exhausting.

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