Poor work has affected the construction of a K4 million (about $10 000) school block in Nsanje District financed by the Local Development Fund (LDF), compelling officials to consider demolishing the two-roomed structure.
LDF is a local financing arm of government which receives funding from Global Partnership on Education (GPE), a multilateral partnership devoted to getting all children into school for quality education. The money comes in form of budgetary support.
The fund was allocated K5.8 billion in the 2013/14 budget, but so far, K2.8 billion (about $7m) has been disbursed.
Officials from LDF, Nsanje District Council and engineers on Friday visited Chagwamafumu Junior Primary School in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlolo in Nsanje North, to assess the factors that led to substandard work.
The school block was constructed in the 2012/13 financial year and towards the end of last year, it was learnt that the structure had developed cracks rendering it inhabitable for learning.
LDF social development specialist John Ng’ambi in an interview after interacting with the school development committee said the block is at risk of collapsing because of a number of factors.
“The materials that they used were not the right one. They used very little cement; the mixture was not the right one. They also used wrong enforcement materials in the school block.
“We have advised that the school block be demolished and a new one constructed on the site,” he explained.
Initially, the money allocated was meant for a school block using burnt bricks but because the community there did not have the bricks, they instead moulded cement bricks which were not enough for the two-roomed block.
The cement blocks were moulded using 295 bags of cement instead of the recommended 400 bags, according to Ng’ambi.
But he said with the rising cost of building materials, there will be need for K9 million (about $22 500) to build another structure.
Nsanje district commissioner Harry Phiri said it seems no assessment was done by the district officials before the project started. “Technically, we did not help the people here. But we also understand that they had their own problems. The people here have also been stealing some of the building materials.
“There are some things that have been done but were not supposed to be done. We, as district officials, were supposed to come to guide them before the project started,” he said.
The school development committee, which had 10 people but now has three, was not transparent during the project implementation. The traditional leaders, it was learnt during the meeting, were in the dark about the whole project.
Chagwamafumu, which has 835 pupils, according to head teacher Matemba Suwali, has no learning structures and pupils learn under trees.
Whenever it is raining, pupils are told to go home. The two school blocks that were constructed, were accommodating 350 pupils.