Faulty 8M Kato Secondary School– Patterson says project was “poorly executed”Following numerous reports and evidence of shoddy work done on the Kato Secondary School project, the contracting company, Kares Engineering Inc has spoken out, saying that no complaint of substandard work was made when the building was completed and handed over to Government.The school, which was built at a cost of $728.1 million, has jarring evidence of poor construction. During a media tour on Wednesday at the school in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), it was seen that the walls and flooring were cracked, termites had infected the wood, and cheap materials were used to build rooms.According to Kares Engineering, in a lengthy statement on Thursday, the school was built to rigid specifications set out by the Government of Guyana and the project was completed within budget, accepted and received by Government without complaints.The company noted that the controversy over the past weeks has “taken a deliberate, in our opinion, political slant and we, as an engineering firm, want to clarify the engineering issues without delving into the political nuances”.The company clarified that it never received $1 billion as is being claimed and, in fact, it was owed $66 million. It was noted that the original cost of the project was $728 million, but only $662 million was paid over to the contractor.According to Kares, the building meets and in many cases, exceeds the contract specifications, which were accepted by the supervising consultant. It noted too that all specifications and changes in the design or materials were made by Government.“Kares Engineering made no independent decision to change or alter any specification. Kares Engineering is confident that the school will pass a compression strength test, the standard for concrete testing. The company is disputing the conflicting Schmidt Hammer readings, both the Public Infrastructure Ministry and the independent contracting firm results show vastly conflicting readings with differences as high as 2920 PSI. The company added that it passed 22 of 24 structural tests conducted by the Ministry and it was after this that an “independent” test was ordered.Moreover, Kares further outlined that the building was still under warranty for termite treatment and would be so for five years from the date of the contract completion.Furthermore, the company stated that Government has never officially notified or requested the engineering firm to correct any works.“To date Kares Engineering is not in receipt of a complaint or request for corrective works. The defects liability period was left to expire, without request for correction. The building was under warranty and corrections could have been made. The Government requested none. There are no structural cracks in the building. The building has a few cracks, which is common to concrete structures and could have been corrected under the defects liability period. This was never requested,” the company maintained.During the visit on Wednesday, residents in the area had complained that they were promised a wage of $7000 per day, but were only paid $2500 per day, of which $1200 was deducted each day for meals. However, the company denied this, saying that $9000 was higher than wages paid to similarly unskilled workers in Georgetown.Nevertheless, Kares Engineering said, like everyone else, it wanted to ensure that the children of Kato got to use the much-needed school, noting that the delays was also holding up the hydropower project promised to the Region through European Union funding.“Our company always has our client’s best interest in mind; as a result, we propose … to remedy any issue,” the release outlined.Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has placed the extremely defective Kato Secondary School high on the agenda for projects to be completed, and it could cost the Government another $140 million to fix.Patterson told the National Assembly on Thursday that both the contractor and the consultant defended themselves, claiming that they were pressured by members of the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration to complete constructions by the 2015 General Elections. He made this statement during his presentation of the Technical Audit Report on the Kato School by Rodrigues Architects Ltd.Managing Director of Rodrigues Architects Ltd, Albert Rodrigues had stated that the project was flawed from the design phase.Stating the works were substandard, Patterson indicated that 50 per cent of the concrete testing failed. Nevertheless, he noted that the Ministry remained committed to correcting the deficiencies and would ensure that when an audit into the repair project commenced, it would be laid before the Parliament for scrutiny.The school, which was constructed to house 400 students, has been deemed unsafe and it has been advised that it should not be opened for the new school term in September. According to Rodrigues, it would take six months to fix the defects.However, Kares Engineering says it remains committed to the project and “is prepared to meet with the Government of Guyana to discuss issues with the building and how they can be resolved”.According to the company’s statement, “Kares Engineering is prepared to fix defects which should have been identified under the defects liability period and to remedy those that are applicable despite the fact that the liability period has expired.” Kato Toshao Clifton Pereira has stated that the residents were anxious for the school’s opening since the Paramakatoi Secondary School was severely overcrowded. He indicated that students were being forced to attend schools as far away as Sand Creek, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo)
Share @LlangorsvillageSpain says they ‘will act’ if Catalan independence is declared on TuesdayThe focus of the deepening clash between Catalan separatists and Spanish authorities is shifting to the regional parliament for a key session likely to include a historic declaration of independence that Spain has pledged to crush.Catalan president Carles Puigdemont hasn’t revealed the precise message he will deliver Tuesday evening with separatist politicians expecting some sort of declaration based on the results of the disputed Oct. 1 referendum on independence.At stake is the territorial integrity of Spain, threatened by a growing separatist movement that is sorely testing the strength of its constitution and the skill of its national and regional leaders.Some expect a strictly symbolic declaration, while others believe a risky full-scale break with Spain will be attempted, even as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vows he will use all lawful means to keep Spain intact.The Spanish leader has said he is willing to use a constitutional clause that allows Madrid to take over direct control of regions if they violate Spain’s constitution — a move that could apply in this case because Spain’s constitutional court had suspended the referendum.Its results are therefore considered invalid under Spanish law.“Spain will not be divided and the national unity will be preserved. We will do everything that legislation allows us to ensure this,” Rajoy told German newspaper Die Welt. “We will prevent this independence from taking place.”Puigdemont’s embrace of independence may be slowed by the decision of several major banks and businesses to move their headquarters out of Catalonia because they want to remain under the European Union’s regulatory umbrella, and also by the bloc’s backing of Spain despite a police crackdown on people trying to vote in the referendum.The Spanish government’s staunch opposition, the lukewarm response of the international community to the prospect of a breakaway state in Europe and the concerns of business leaders all suggest an independence move would extract a heavy price from Catalan’s separatist leaders.Still, separatist politicians say there will be a declaration of independence for the northeastern region of 7.5 million people during the Tuesday session, although some ruling coalition lawmakers say the move could be simply “symbolic.”The Oct. 1 referendum vote has been followed by mass protests of Catalans angered by heavy-handed police tactics.But there also have been well-organized, large-scale rallies in both Catalonia and Madrid by people committed to keeping Spain intact.Police say roughly 350,000 took part in the anti-independence protests Sunday in Barcelona. The demonstrators chanted “Don’t be fooled, Catalonia is Spain” and called for Puigdemont to go to prison for holding the banned referendum. Some held up signs thanking Spain’s National Police and Guardia Civil for their support.Despite the opposition, some politicians and activists say they won’t accept anything less than a full declaration of independence at Tuesday’s session.“Credibility and dignity suggest making the declaration of independence tomorrow (Tuesday),” Jordi Sanchez, the head of the civil group National Catalonia Assembly, said Monday.A lawmaker with the Catalan CUP party told The Associated Press that the far-left separatists won’t accept compromise on the issue.“It’s very clear to me that those who I represent won’t accept any other scenario,” Benet Salellas said during an interview at the regional parliament.With so much uncertainty in the air, Catalonia’s top judicial official ordered additional Spanish police protection for the headquarters of the regional judiciary.The High Judiciary in Catalonia says its president, Jesus Barrientos, has asked the chief of the National Police force in the region to join in the protection of the building. The statement says the move is aimed at stopping any attempt to suspend the judiciary and ouster of its president in the event of secession, even if the declaration would be illegal under Spanish laws.Catalan authorities say the “Yes” side won the referendum with 90 percent of the vote, although only 43 percent of the region’s 5.3 million eligible voters turned out in polling that was disrupted by police raids of polling stations.They say this validates their independence bid.Rajoy has said the central government could take direct control of Catalonia, which now enjoys a measure of autonomy.“The ideal situation would be that I don’t have to find drastic solutions,” Rajoy said this weekend.Rajoy’s government had repeatedly refused to grant Catalonia permission to hold a referendum on grounds that it is unconstitutional, since it would only poll a portion of Spain’s 46 million residents.Catalonia’s separatist camp has grown in recent years, strengthened by Spain’s recent economic crisis and by Madrid’s rejection of attempts to increase self-rule in the region.