Fed up parents threaten to close down Valencia if a new school is not built

A new primary school was first promised in 2007

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“As you can see for yourself, it’s hard to enter our school because it has been raining since yesterday,” says Addo Primary’s school principal. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

  • A new primary school for Valencia, Eastern Cape, was first promised in 2007.
  • Fed up parents say they will bring the citrus-producing town to a standstill if a contractor is not on site by April.
  • The current school is overcrowded, and in a bad state and deteriorating.

Fed up Valencia township residents have warned that they will shut down the Addo Primary School and bring the citrus-producing town to a standstill if by April there is no contractor on-site to build them a school that was first promised in 2007.

Delays in the appointment and the failure to pay contractors have repeatedly stalled the project. We reported in detail on this drawn out saga a year ago.

After a long struggle, Faranani Construction was appointed in 2018 by the Eastern Cape Department of Public Works to construct a R68-million school. But the contractor abandoned the site in 2019 because it wasn’t paid.

ACMR Capital then stepped in promising to fund the completion of the school. But its contractor, GVK-Siyazama Construction, abandoned the site in January 2021 over non-payment. The matter went to the Johannesburg High Court for a claim of R28.5-million owed by ACMR Capital.

Now Malibongwe Mtima, provincial education spokesperson, says a new contractor is expected on site in June.

The current school is overcrowded, in poor condition and has flooded in heavy rains in 2015, 2016 and 2022, because there is no proper drainage.

Elizabeth Boewas, acting school principal, says, “The parents are very furious. The school condition has deteriorated and learners are suffering … I have been begging them not to shut down the school for the sake of the future of their children.”

“On Monday and Wednesday this week our electric cables were stolen … Toilets are unable to flush. We have to use a hose pipe in order to fill up the toilets and then flush. Classrooms are very dark because we have no electricity. Our maintenance budget is R9,718 per year. The total cost to fix the electrical damage is about R6,000.”

The only school in Valencia, it has 964 learners who share 22 prefabricated classrooms. The school should have only 600 learners and have 24 classrooms. There are 70 grade R learners taught in the staff room, rotating in two groups. The school is also six teachers short.

Rodney Gouza, deputy chairperson of the school governing body, says, “In January there was a site visit for the issuing of a tender. The officials said the tender process will be closed in February and by April a contractor would be on site.

“We have warned the officials that if April comes and there is no contractor on site we will shut down the school because we cannot let our children carry on studying under these terrible conditions. Not a single official would allow his or her child to use dirty toilets and be crammed in a overcrowded classroom.”

Mtima confirmed that the tender process closed on 14 February 2023.

“We anticipate having the contractor on site by the end of June 2023,” he said.

Siphokazi Ncanywa, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Public Works, said, “We are currently procuring for a replacement contractor.”

TOPICS:  Education

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