Sparks in electrical panel causes school's closure

Students of Santa Flora Government Primary school had to be evacuated from their temporary quarters at Beach Camp on Tuesday after an electrical panel box began sparking inside the school.

A total of 242 pupils, 15 teachers, three cleaners and a security guard had to flee Beach Camp facilities in Palo Seco, because of the fire.

The school had been shut down because of deplorable conditions and the entire school had been relocated to Beach Camp in 2015. 

However, president of the PTA Troy Ganga said even though Beach Camp was supposed to be their temporary accommodation for 6 months only, they have been attending classes there for three years.

He said the new school building is 80 percent complete.

"Works have stopped for years now because the contractor was not paid and he said once he gets his outstanding money, construction will resume," Ganga said.

He noted that around 11:30 am, the faulty panel box began emitting a cracking sound and sparks started to shoot out.

"It was difficult evacuating the children because Beach Camp is far and some of the exits are not acceptable. The building was not designed to house 242 children. We want the new school to be finished.

Beach camp is not suitable. We have had problems with the sewer and the electricals. Every Monday morning we have some issue and this is not good for our children," he said.

Ganga said the pupils have been unable to participate in zonal games because of inadequate facilities. 

"We are a school which participates in everything but we are being denied. Our SEA children are facing a disadvantage," Ganga added.

He noted that the parents should not have to consider placard protests to get their school completed.

"We are asking for meaningful dialogue. We do not want to engage in protest. All we are asking is for our new school be completed," he said.

However, Minister of Education Anthony Garcia said the Ministry will be paying all contractors who are owed money within the next few days.

"That school is a construction site and it is in the hands of the contractor. We have to negotiate terms and conditions so that we can have a resumption of construction. We are making every effort to pay contractors monies that are owed to them. I can assure you that in a matter of days, all contractors who have been owed will be paid so we will resume construction of that school shortly.

He also said that before the construction could resume statutory approvals had to be granted from WASA, T&TEC and the Siparia Regional Corporation.

- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Ivan Toolsie

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