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Newly built N$84m classrooms falling apart

by Shasimana Uugulu

Some of the classrooms built by the Ministry of Education as part of an N$84 m project to address the shortage of schools countrywide two years ago are falling apart.

A visit to some of the schools that have benefitted from this project by The Villager to examine the state of the newly constructed classrooms revealed a shocking scene of cracks as a result of poor quality construction as well as vandalism. 

Some of the schools who benefited but are now heavily include affected are Rocky Crest High School, Hage Geingob Secondary School, Moses //Garoeb Primary School and Groot Aub Primary School, Havana Primary School, Moreson Special School, Elim Primary School. Khomasdal Primary School, and C.J. Brandt High School in the capital.

Namibia needs to construct around 600 new classrooms annually to meet the current demand of pre-primary and primary learners.

As a result, Education Minister Dr. Abraham Iyambo, years ago launched an N$84m crash project to construct the classrooms.

Currently around 200 new classrooms have been built since he launched the project, but it has been all rosy in quantity not quality as most of the classrooms are falling apart.

At Moreson Special School learners have since been moved from the building because it’s feared the building could collapse any time

School principals interviewed blame the construction companies are all certain that their new classrooms will need another rework.

C.J Brandt High School in Wanaheda Principal George Karumendu said although he has no expertise in construction,  "It is evident these buildings that are less than two years old are already showing signs of cracking. If you look at the plug wiring here in my office they are also coming out. This is a poor job done on the part of the contractors,” said Karumendu, blaming the cheap materials used.

“The regional office is aware of the state of the classrooms and we were told the contractor has been informed to come back and fill up the cracks as well as to replace rails but they have not come yet,” added Karumendu standing close to a gap where all rails have fallen out.

Just like C.J Brandt, Rocky Crest High and Khomasdal Primary Schools also have cracked new classrooms.  

Although Rocky Crest High School principal, Alban Kloppers disallowed The Villager from taking pictures, the reception area and his office are visibly affected.

Education Minister Dr. Abraham Iyambo has called on inspectors from the Ministry of Works and Transport to  hold contractors more accountable for the work they do.

He conceeded that Government has been taken for a ride by local contractors and advised the Ministry of Works and Transport to come up with a mechanism that compels contractors to build structures that will not show signs of cracking within two years through retaining some fees.

“I have seen a situation in the north whereby the contractor wanted to use some of the worst roofing materials. As a Ministry we are saying no to such contractors and I want the building inspectors to do their job and make sure that contractors who do sub-standard jobs are called back and re-do the work at their own cost,” said Iyambo.

“If a building shows signs of cracking within the first two years of its completion, the contractor should be called back to re-do the work at their own cost,” advised Iyambo.

Senior Planner within the Ministry of Education, Clemence Hinanifa confirmed to The Villager that the Ministry is aware of the cracking classrooms.

“I cannot really pinpoint the reason why the classrooms are cracking but one should understand that the contractors were given a very short time frame to finish the construction process. 

“However, there are cases where the contractors made use of poor quality materials which was suppose to be noticed by the consultants and inspectors on site,” said Hinanifa.

The construction of classrooms has been taking place under the watchful eyes of the Ministry of Works inspectors.

You can also interract with Shasimana Uugulu on Facebook.