A photo of Elmore Stoutt High School taken in the weeks after the storm. (File Photo: FREEMAN ROGERS)

Almost a year and a half after Hurricane Irma, five contractors — four from the Virgin Islands and one from St. Lucia — have placed bids on the refit of the L- shaped building at Elmore Stoutt High School, and officials are aiming for completion early next school year.

Of the bids, which were opened publicly on Jan. 30, Quality Construction came in with the highest, at about $4.31 million, and Qwomar Construction Limited had the lowest at some $2.89 million.

The three other bidders were Metro Construction Limited at about $4.25 million, Autland Heavy Equipment at about $3.85 million, and Construction and Industrial Equipment Limited at about $3.58 million.

During a handover ceremony last Thursday at Ivan Dawson Primary School in Cane Garden Bay, Education and Culture Minister Myron Walwyn promised to have the building complete “at least by the first month or so of the new academic school year.”

CDB loan

The long-delayed project is being financed as part of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan, a $65.2 million pack- age implemented by the government with the Caribbean Development Bank to rebuild social and economic infrastructure in the transportation, water and sewerage, education and national security sectors in the wake of the 2017 storms.

“It is not a new structure,” said Dr. Drexel Glasgow, director of projects for the Ministry of Finance, who held a formal reading of tenders on Jan. 30 in which he and his staff gathered at the Procurement Unit offices to open and read the bids one by one.

In describing the scope of the project, he called it “a rehabilitation” to include the “ceiling, the windows, doors, electricals, [air conditioning], the rail itself … and the flooring. Everything on the inside.”

The project will also include some work on the parapet around the roof of the structure, as well as painting.

Next steps

Shadi Hussein, a procurement specialist for the United Nations Development Programme who is partnering with the government on the project, explained that the next step is a process to ensure that all bids submitted meet the initial qual- ifications, which include certificates of good standing from the Social Security Board, the Registry of Corporate Affairs and the Inland Revenue Department; a valid trade licence; tender security; a form of proposal; and a bill of quantities.

“There will then be a more detailed evaluation,” he said.

“If you meet the qualifications, it’s a more detailed review of the pricing.”
Dr. Glasgow told the contractors, “We follow the CDB format. Once this process is concluded it goes through an evaluation stage of the committee.

Pending that evaluation, we have a couple of formal processes: ratification by the board, ratification by Cabinet. Then it will be communicated to you as to the successes of the tender.”

Last week, demolition began on the destroyed parts of the campus, carried out by VI contractors Modern Development Services Limited Company under the supervision of the Public Works Department. After that, only the L-shaped building will remain. That process is scheduled to be complete this month, ac- cording to Government Information Services.

On Dec. 21, contractors gathered at the school for a pre-tender meeting on the construction work.

At the time, Duane Fraites, assistant director of projects for the finance ministry, said, “The opening of the bid process is an opportunity for the local contracting community … for works under the [RRL].”

Since Hurricane Irma, junior and senior ESHS students have been attending in shifts in a makeshift building in the former Clarence Thomas Limited building in Pasea, where the learning process has been hampered by excess noise and cramped conditions.

The original timeframe announced for the refit of the school was the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, according to Mr. Walwyn.

It has been repeatedly pushed back after the ministry requested that the rebuild be added to the CDB loan package, which the minister has called a “vigorous and time-consuming process.”