Grens school move de­layed over payments

Daily Dispatch - - News - ARETHA LIN­DEN ED­U­CA­TION RE­PORTER arethal@dis­patch.co.za

The re­al­i­sa­tion of a much-an­tic­i­pated in­ner-city high school is be­ing de­layed by the ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment as it has failed to hon­our payments owed to a build­ing con­trac­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to Dew­ing Con­struc­tion, the de­part­ment owes them just over R11m for the con­struc­tion of a new pri­mary school on the premises of East Lon­don’s Grens Hoërskool.

Grens Laer­skool, cur­rently based in Ar­ca­dia, is to move into the new school build­ing to make way for the Steve Biko High School.

Ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­pal of Grens Laer­skool, Jan Brand, the move was sup­posed to have hap­pened be­fore the end of 2019, to en­sure the in­ner-city high school starts op­er­at­ing next year.

How­ever, that seems un­likely to hap­pen, as Dew­ing Con­struc­tion are now on a go-slow due to the non-pay­ment.

In a let­ter dated Septem­ber 28, ad­dressed to an East Lon­don ar­chi­tec­ture com­pany, Dew­ing Con­struc­tion con­tract man­ager, Rus­sell Ma­clach­lan, made it clear that no work will be done with­out pay­ment.

“Dew­ing Con­struc­tion can­not risk busi­ness due to the lack of com­mit­ment from our mu­tual client,” stated the let­ter.

“We there­fore will have min­i­mal staff on site from Oc­to­ber 1. We have stopped all ma­te­rial or­ders,” stated Ma­clach­lan.

Ac­cord­ing to an email sent to the de­part­ment of ed­u­ca­tion by the build­ing con­trac­tor’s quan­tity sur­veyor, Al­lie Choonara, the de­part­ment owed them just over R11m for payments not made be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber.

Choonara also stated that payments on the project were con­tin­u­ously late since the project started in Jan­uary 2017.

The Daily Dis­patch vis­ited the school sit­u­ated on the premises of Grens Hoërskool in Baysville.

Con­struc­tion of the grades 1 to 6 class­room blocks as well as the ad­min block have been com­pleted. Con­struc­tion on the school hall and Grade 7 class­rooms is in­com­plete, while con­struc­tion of the Grade R block has yet to com­mence.

Brand said his main con­cern was that pupils from in­ner-city pri­mary schools that have no feeder high schools will once again find them­selves scram­bling to get place­ment.

“There are pri­mary schools, such as Pres­i­dent, Col­lege Street and South­ern­wood Pri­mary that do not have feeder high schools. We are ready to move to make way for them but it seems like the de­part­ment does not see the ur­gency,” said Brand.

The de­part­ment’s spokesper­son, Malibongwe Mtima said they were aware of the “in­ci­dent” and claimed to have met with Dew­ing and other build­ing con­trac­tors who have not been paid by the de­part­ment.

“We have made a com­mit­ment to pay. We have the money, we will set­tle the out­stand­ing debts with the help from trea­sury,” said Mtima.

Asked when the payments would be made and why were there de­lays, Mtima said he was un­able to say when payments would be made and said the de­lays were due to in­ter­nal process.

He said he could not share the de­tails of the in­ter­nal pro­cesses that caused the de­lay.

Pic­ture: ARETHA LIN­DEN

ON THE GO: Head­mas­ter Jan Brand stands in front of the new Grens Laer­skool in Baysville that is be­ing con­structed.

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