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New BHS could cost EC$80 million; Richards’ figure does not include furniture, lab equipment and air-conditioning

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Photo: Mr. Victor Williams

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 1st 2017 – Construction of the proposed new Basseterre High School (BHS) could cost in the region of EC$80 million.

That is the sound and professional view of one of the Federation’s renowned architect and planner, Mr. Victor Williams, stated that the EC$40 million figure given by Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Shawn Richards does not include the cost of support buildings, fencing, furniture, lab equipment and air conditioning.

He also told WINNFM in an exclusive interview that an Environmental Impact Assessment of the project can only be done once the design concept for the school is complete.

“Being very familiar with cost and having actually designed some larger buildings I am estimating the special requirement for building is in excess of 70,000 sq ft. The accompanying global costing – I’m taking into consideration the government doesn’t pay duty on its materials, and so far I’ve wrapped up between 55 and 60 million EC dollars,” Williams told WINNFM in an exclusive interview.

“However, let me hasten to add, because I haven’t seen the design there are a number of global costs that are not yet included. For example support buildings, sporting and recreation, site improvement which would be things like parking, landscaping, fencing of the structure, furniture, lab equipment, air conditioning, vertical transportation (elevators), IT, data communications,” said Williams, a former Chairman of the Development Control and Planning Board.

“So we don’t know these yet, so the point I’m making is that realistically, from what I’ve seen over the years that could be quite a few additional million dollars. I don’t think I mentioned the sewage disposal system, because that’s going to be another big system as well.

“So realistically, and it’s important for us to know this and not be naïve in thinking of cost- we’re looking at another 15 to 20 million dollars on top of the $60 million so we’re looking at anywhere between 75 to 80 million dollars.”

The architect said an Environmental Impact Assessment of the project would be a critical step that can only be done once the design concept for the school is complete.

“The design concept and the narrative is critical because the narrative will speak to all the systems that you propose to put in there, because you have to inform the persons who are going to do the next step, which is the Environmental Impact Assessment. Now they can’t do that assessment until they know what are the design parameters, but certainly by now we should have in place the design parameters and the narrative to go with it,” said Williams, pointing out that the person or persons who will carry out the EIA would take into consideration information provided.

“They will look at the narrative. We are designing for 1200 students, it’s a three-story building, its X square feet in size, the number of rooms and go through all the parameters and that is when the team which is doing the EIA will start.

“Now let me just say for a project o this size, even though it’s governmental, it still has to follow planning requirements. This EIA stage is a very, very critical because you will never be able to make any conclusive statement until you’ve done the EIA and although I’ve heard some engineers make certain statements- it cannot be conclusive until the EIA is done and you cannot pre-determine the EIA, you can’t fix the results of the EIA; it has to evolve out of the prevailing circumstances,” said Williams.

He added that once the parameters are done, you have to review the project because some of the parameters that you have will have to change or may change,” Williams said.

Representatives from the contracting and civil engineering companies, both out of Barbados, met with the Steering Committee for the BHS construction last week in an effort to finalize the design concepts for the facility.

WINN FM said it understands that the design concepts as proposed exceeded the government’s estimated $40 million EC price tag for the new Basseterre High School reportedly by more than 50% of the anticipated cost.

The Team Unity administration of Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris has rejected reports from local scientists, the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health agency (CARPHA), the Trinidad-based Caribbean Industrial Research Institute ( CARIRI) and the Washington D.C.-based National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH.) which recommended that the buildings could be inhabited after remedial works are completed.

Although the reports were rejected, the Harris PLP/CCM/PAM Government removed three wooden buildings from the original site and is using them as classrooms and the principal’s office at the temporary location in Taylors.

Desk, chairs, tables and air condition units were also removed and installed at the temporary BHS facility as well, as the Verchild’s High School.


Plans by the government to build the new school on the water table which provides millions of gallons on water to residents of Basseterre, Frigate Bay and the Southeast peninsula is also mired in controversy.

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