Parents and the school governing body at Rust-Ter-Vaal Secondary School are worried about the safety of their children after a learner was injured during class due to run-down asbestos facilities in 2020.
Back in 2013 Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said these types of buildings were supposed to be refurbished by November 2016 as per the norms and standards of the school infrastructure.
Gauteng Provincial Government, in 2018, commissioned construction company Condocor Pty Ltd to build a new school but the construction works were abandoned on the new site without completion. The project was left unfinished allegedly without any explanation to date.
The new school was supposed to be occupied by February 2020 – meaning the pupil at Rust-Ter-Vaal Secondary School will continue to attend classes in the old dilapidated asbestos facilities they received in 1969 from the apartheid government.
The school has 21 classes and was built to only cater for 500 learners. But over the years the number of learners went up, and there are currently 1 331 learners with only twelve toilets to use.
SABC News Specialist Researcher Maswele Ralebona visited the school and learned from the deputy principal that mobile classrooms were being considered.
The current status of classes is unsuitable for both learners and teachers. The roof is falling off, the structure is moving apart. In winter it is cold and in summer it is too hot.
Parents are scared that the incident of the learner who got injured will repeat itself and their children are in danger because they are inhaling the toxins from the asbestos.
However, when speaking to Morning Live, Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development Tasneem Motara says her first impression when looking at the unfished building is a huge disappointment because by now the school should’ve been open and operational.
“Sadly we had a contractor that was not up to scratch, we were forced as a department to terminate the contractor. The construction is stopped, the contractor is terminated and that got its own legal process and we are in the process of appointing a new contractor to finish the school,” she says.
Motara says they tried to assist the contractor because it all started as a cash flow problem, as the department engaged the contractor trying to assist because the school is not the only unfinished building by the same contractor, Condocor also left the new Covid-19 wards in Kopanong Hospital unfinished as well.
“We had similar issues on the two sites they were running concurrently, it started with what we can call cashflow problems, we tried to engage the contractor. The contractor was extremely stubborn and extremely arrogant, we tried to assist with the information from the department to help them with financial excess from the banking institutions, but they failed. We then began to get the sense that contractor was now no longer cooperating, also not being honest with the fact that they were having financial cashflow problems,” says Motara.
They are in the middle of a legal battle, and there are subcontractors who are also left to fend for themselves as they have invested in this project and haven’t received any payment the last communication they had from the main contractor was August 2021.