- Category: Parliament Track
- Written by Phillip Pemba
A recent environmental assessment on the construction of 16 teachersâ€™ houses at 12 primary schools in Karonga has exposed some lapses in the management of waste matter and vegetation around the sites where the schools are being built.
If not addressed, the review fears the situation would lead to more soil erosion and threaten availability of natural resources in the project sites.
The exercise, which assessed Local Development Fund projects in five educational zones in the district, has also highlighted delays to complete some teachersâ€™ houses by contractors and some areas where contractors failed to do their work properly.
The houses are being constructed by LDF to which Parliament has been allocating billions of kwacha. Last fiscal year, government constructed 1 000 teachersâ€™ houses under LDF, with each house costing about K4 million (about $16 000) to complete.
One of the schools to which Parliament allocated funds in the 2011/12 budget to construct teachersâ€™ houses in Karonga is Chilambiro Primary School in Nkhando Educational Zone where two houses are being constructed.
The review says some vegetation was removed and soil erosion was occurring because the houses are located at a sloppy site, adding the school and communities around it are responsible for planting trees and other plants at the site.
â€œGenerally, the progress of the project is very slow. The deputy head teacher reported that one of the contractors is not reporting for work whereas the other is delaying because the community is not providing materials in time due to too many projects in which they are involved for the same kind of participation,â€ reads the report in part.
Another school where government is constructing teachersâ€™ houses in the district is Kasisi Primary School where the review says there are water shortages due to a poor terrain.
â€œThis water shortage has affected the progress of the project in a way that it has been delayed somehow. A borehole is two kilometres away from the school. A pit latrine has been dug,â€ reads the report.
It also says the community around the school, Forestry Department and other stakeholders are responsible for planting of trees and other plants at the site.
â€œThe forestry office should advise on the proper tree species that hold water. The contractor was advised to properly dispose the water building materials and to demolish the temporary water storage structure after the project.
â€œThe contractor complains of the increase in the prices of some building materials,â€ adds the report compiled by the districtâ€™s environmental officer Getrude Chinangwa Gangata. At Kakoma and Mayoka primary schools in Mwenitete and Iponga educational zones, where government is also constructing teachersâ€™ houses in the district, the report says there is pressure on water resources at the schools due to too many users.
â€œA toilet pit has been dug [at Kakoma]. Traffic disruption is very possible as the house lies near the road. Dust pollution to the occupants is also likely due to the by passing vehicles,â€ says the report.
Karonga District Commissioner Emmanuel Bambe could not be reached on his phone on Tuesday to comment on what was being to fix the concerns.
Government contributed K2.4 billion in the 2009/10 and 2010/11 budgets for the construction of 1 000 houses in rural areas to improve recruitment and retention of teachers.
Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga last week said government has allocated K10.4 billion towards the development budget for the education sector in the 2012/13 budget, with part of the resources to be used for construction and rehabilitation of over 4 000 teachersâ€™ houses and primary classroom blocks through the Education Ministry and LDF.