St. PETERS–A concrete floor and an empty lot with no workmen are just some signs of work stalled for the state-of-the-art special education school planned for the old location of Prins Willem-Alexander School (PWAS) on Wednesday.
Young contractor Eric van Putten of Designer’s Choice NV won the bid in 2016 to carry out the first phase of the project. The facility was set to take three years to be completed and was budgeted for NAf. 13,800,000.
Head of New Works Kurt Ruan was contacted this week by The Daily Herald and asked for an update on the project. “The contractor poured concrete recently and works are expected to continue,” he said.
The school was demolished because sections of the building contained asbestos. The asbestos was removed by Royal Haskoning from the Netherlands, while Designers Choice worked on the demolition of non-asbestos sections.
“Hurricane Irma back in 2017 slowed down the works and the contractor is expected to work on completing the works,” said Ruan.
The school was developed in the 1970s to offer, among other things, a programme based on the philosophy that involves educating the whole child – helping the students gain understanding not only by acquiring academic knowledge and skills, but through practical experience, the acquisition of positive attitudes and the instilling of pride of self-worth and independence as a valued contributor to the St. Maarten society regardless of the disability.
Minister of Education Wycliffe Smith was asked for an update on the school on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers press briefing. “The plans are ready and the project is about to start. We will be able to give more information at next week’s press briefing,” he said.
The Daily Herald understands that government’s infrastructure department had attempted to contact Designers Choice on numerous occasions for an update on the timeline for work to begin, but to no avail. After Hurricane Irma, the company was asked to provide a date for construction to begin, but the company did not respond for nearly eight months until government threatened legal action.
Former Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs was instrumental in getting the project started during her first stint as Minister several years ago. The first phase cost the government NAf. 2,900,000 which was funded through the capital investment budget. The construction is expected to see six sections consisting of eight classrooms.
Some of the programmes that will be offered at this facility, once completed, are language arts, reading and remedial reading, arithmetic, home economics, general knowledge, hygiene, music, drama, arts and crafts, general care, physical education and computer technology.
The school is expected to render the services of life skills, preparatory job skills, counselling, psychotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and information and communications technology (ICT) skills.
Contractor Eric van Putten was contacted for comment on Wednesday, but there was no reply to the email sent by this newspaper.
The school was relocated to Belvedere three years ago. The project was slated to be completed this year.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/84549-contractor-yet-to-complete-reconstruction-of-pwas