Though the new buildings at Elmore Stoutt High School initially were scheduled to be completed before September, shipping challenges and other issues have set the target date months behind, according to Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie De Castro.
Ms. De Castro explained the delays during a House of Assembly meeting on Oct. 25, saying that works are “90 percent complete” and that the date of the opening ceremony will be announced only after several more steps are completed.
Outstanding works include the delivery of furniture like office and computer desks, storage units, photocopiers, microwaves, and electrical appliances, according to the minister.
She added that 42 interactive whiteboards and three folding beds for the infirmary are scheduled to arrive no later than Nov. 18.
Ms. De Castro also pro- vided more details about the recent delays. Her ministry, for instance, has faced challenges with scheduled shipping dates for critical components of the project, she said.
Although contractors expected windows, doors, paints and floor stains in July so that construction could be completed by the end of August, “global supply chain issues” along with adverse weather conditions disrupted the transportation of these critical items, she explained.
“Based on these challenges, a new date for the shipment of windows, for example — which were manufactured in China — was determined and slated to arrive on Aug. 21, 2022,” she said. “However, these windows were further delayed due to the unusual congestion in port Kingston, Jamaica. That shipment was received on Sept. 4, 2022, but only included the bathroom windows and the sound retention louvers for the building walkways.”
Windows and light fixtures arrived in the territory on Sept. 28 but were accidentally sent away to St. Maarten because the container wasn’t offloaded, according to the minister. It took another 18 days to correct the mistake, she said.
“These items were outside of our control and affected the timeline,” Ms. De Castro said. “In construction, there are unexpected mishaps that affect the work programme, and this was unfortunately a part of the process.”
Floor stains arrived on Oct. 4 and a final shipment of furniture came on Oct. 23, according to the minister. And despite an accident that affected the shipment of paint, locally sourced paint was used to finish painting works, she explained.
Despite the challenges, the minister thanked contractors Quality Construction, Metro Construction, Autland Heavy Equipment Co. Ltd., and the joint venture of Sunleaf Construction and Northam Construction for a “stellar job” in “advancing the buildings … within an unprecedented short timeline.”
The plans for three new ESHS buildings were unveiled in January. Among other uses, they will accommodate senior students who were then attending classes at the former Clarence Thomas Limited building in Pasea.
Even though the buildings weren’t finished at the start of this school year, the students moved to the existing ESHS buildings, where they are attending on a shift system.
RDA officials said they expected a total project expenditure of about $15 million.