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Regional News of Thursday, 23 June 2011

Source: GNA

AESL clarifies issues on the cost of infrastructure for schools

Accra, June 23, GNA - Mr Louis Satchmo Atongo, Acting Managing Direc= tor of Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) on Thursday said the first batch of infrastructure for basic schools comprising a six-unit classroom block and ancillary facilities awarded in 2003 was valued at GH¢66,358. He said the contract comprised of a six-unit classroom block with office, store, staff common room, a library and toilet facilities. Mr Atongo said the same contract was awarded in 2008 at GH¢151,244 d= ue to the enlargement of the classrooms to accommodate more pupils and high cost of building materials at the time.

Addressing journalists at the meet-the-press series in Accra, Mr Atong= o said the enlargement was as a result of a hue and cry from school authorities on the size of those awarded earlier. On June 10, this year, the Minority Members in Parliament raised serious concerns about what they considered as 93the ridiculous and outrageous over-pricing of contracts" under the Mills-Mahama National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration. According to the minority, the astronomical increase of nearly 200 per cent in the cost of a six-unit classroom block since 2008 was not justifiable, especially at a time government spokespersons were trumpeting a fall in interest and inflation rates. "In 2008, a six classroom unit with an office, staff common room, a store, a toilet facility all attached was at the cost of GH¢84,000," th= e Minority contended.

Mr Atongo said before one could do a scientific comparison of two buildings, one had to ensure that the two buildings were the same in design= , specification and location, adding, 93you cannot compare mangoes with apples."

He said in January this year, the AESL recommended the construction of similar six unit classroom blocks with office, library, and store and toile= t facility at various locations at the average cost of GH¢208,800. "Last year specifically in May, 2010, the government approved the construction of six unit classroom blocks for Senior High Schools at prices ranging from GH¢220,000 to GH¢283,000 depending on locations and site conditions," he said. Mr Atongo said the classrooms for SHS were larger, ceiled and the windows were of 93Naco" louvre carriers with glass louvre blades unlike the basic schools with smaller classrooms, not ceiled and hardwood jalousie windows. "The cost of construction generally, is determined by the design, specification and location of the structure. You therefore, cannot compare two buildings without taking into consideration the size and number of room= s and other facilities; type of materials used and location of structures,"= he added.

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah, Deputy Minister of Information said as much as the country needed decent classroom blocks, quality education and dedicated teachers, it as well wanted taxpayers' money to be used judiciously, hence the need to call for the press conference to clarify som= e misleading issues raised by the Minority.