North West school finally opens after construction mafia disruptions

After several delays caused by an alleged construction mafia, the multimillion rand Sarafina Secondary School in Ikageng in Potchefstroom, North West, is finally ready for operation.

Local businesses wanted in on the work

This after after three years of construction delays caused by local business forums. The groups wanted to be included in the process of building the school as local subcontractors.

This was revealed by North West Department of Education spokesperson Mphata Molokwane. The business forums wanted to forcefully become part of the project without following the procedures of bidding for business.

Delays resulted in huge additional costs

The delays saw the project costs, which the department had in 2021 budgeted R68-million, skyrocket by 41% to R98-million.

The school was built in order to absorb more learners from the community. This was in an effort to decrease overcrowding that is plaguing neighbouring schools.

Molokwane said there were other contractual obligations which contributed to the school project delay. However, the department was excited to finally see it open its doors at the beginning of the academic year.

Procedural issues to blame

“The main contractor in a way did not follow some of the specifications that were highlighted in the contract. For instance, time frames were not met [as scheduled],” he said.

He said the challenges had resulted in the main contractor approaching the department for an extension of completion deadline.

While classes will continue as schools reopen for the new academic year, construction will still be in progress to complete sporting facilities. The school project is expected to be wrapped up in March.

“Sarafina will accommodate 721 Grade 8 and 9 learners from local communities. In this case, Grade 10 classes will be functional from next year as it will be determined by this year’s academic performance of Grade 9 learners.

Grade 8 and 9 main target

“The school in all capacity is 1,200, including Grade 12 learners when the school is fully functional. The main target is Grade 8 and 9, as the school will progress accordingly until this cohort reaches matric,” said Molokwane.

He said the school will be under the leadership of principal Paul Mokoena and 14 teachers. They are all expected to report for duty as inland schools reopen next week.

“It should be noted that stationery has been delivered to the school, which will accelerate teaching and learning on the first day of the school year. The school will offer senior phase general subjects as prescribed by Caps (curriculum and assessment policy statement),” said Molokwane.

He said Education MEC Viola Motsumi has partially handed over the school building to the community. This confirmed the building’s safety for teaching and learning.

More new schools open in the province

She also confirmed that Seruchera Primary School, a new school in Vryburg, will also be ready for operation when schools reopen on January 17.

“Huhudi residents can feel secure knowing that the school will accept learners in Grade R to 6. Some of the primary schools in Huhudi Township will become less crowded as a result of this school.”

Huhudi township is in Vryburg, North West.

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