More than five hundred girls of the Odorgonno Senior High School have been left to make do with an old three-seater toilet facility after an oil cash-funded 18-seat facility constructed alongside a girls’ dormitory broke down after barely four months of usage.
The facility was inaugurated in October last year, but by close of 2016 the septic tank was full – forcing the school authorities to empty it, only for it to be full again before April this year.
The GH¢110,000 facility [toilet and dormitory] was constructed from proceeds from the country’s petroleum revenues, and has since been abandoned by the school authorities who argued there is an engineering defect that must be rectified for the toilet to be functional again.
The Headmistress of the school, Dr. Mrs. Shine Ofori, told a team from the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) that the situation has left them with little option than allowing the girls to use a nearby facility – regardless of inconvenience caused to the students.
Dr. Ofori told the PIAC team – made up of members and journalists drawn from the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) – the facility was constructed with minimal input from the school, as it was not consulted prior to awarding the contract.
The project commenced in 2014 and was completed in 2015 amid several defects – leading to the school authorities insisting that if they are not corrected, the facility would not be put to use.
The Headmistress said upon several discussions with stakeholders, the contractor agreed to undertake a number of corrections to the defects identified, such as a fence-wall, although a number of defects were still unresolved till closing of the project.
An appeal made to the Ga Central Municipal Assembly, under whose jurisdiction the school falls, did not yield the much-needed results because the assembly said it did not play any role in awarding the contract as should have been the case.
The Assembly’s Principal Director of Education, Denise Welbeck who was also present at the PIAC visitation, said due to the numerous defects the school authorities had pointed out, she counselled that the school should delay using the facility till they are corrected.
But when the school commenced admission last year, it needed the place so badly it had to move in regardless of the challenges already identified.
The Principal Director of Education said the project did not meet their standards, but fell short of blaming the school authorities for moving in – acknowledging the dilemma the school faced when it was overwhelmed by the student population.
According to Headmistress of the school, Dr. Shine Ofori, the school is awaiting government’s assistance to preferably construct a new septic tank to allow the school access the toilet facility, which has been locked for the past seven months.
Dr. Kojo Stephens, a member of the PIAC, commenting on the facility said it is important that beneficiaries of the project are made aware of the source of funding and also consulted before the project commences.
“It is imperative that the beneficiaries of the project be consulted before a project is undertaken in all instances,” he said.
By:Richard Annerquaye Abbey | thebftonline.com | Ghana