School construction errors costly

Construction errors on the new Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound have required more than $2 million of repair work, according to head of the new construction management team.

During a media walk-through of the school on Thursday, 12 May, David Benoit of Benoit Construction Management Services said the mistakes on the new buildings have also slowed work on the school significantly.

Some of the mistakes were made on such relatively simple things as the size of the window fittings, Mr. Benoit said.

“…it could be off by an inch, an inch and a half, two inches in some cases,” he said. “So we can’t just go put the window in.”

Roughly 240 workers, not including management, from 10 major contractors and more than 20 smaller contractors have been brought in to finish, and in some cases redo the previous construction work on the new campus.

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“We’ve spent over $2 million repairing defective work that the contractor left. And that number is not going to stop,” Mr. Benoit said.

“From a corrective work standpoint, about 98 per cent of the openings – doors, windows – had to be reworked because they were defective by the former contractor,” he said. “So when people say, ‘Well, I don’t see a lot of progress out there’, they don’t see the workers on the interior of the buildings fixing every one of the openings.”

Mr. Benoit’s team was brought on in October 2010 and has worked along Cayman Construction Management Ltd in managing the project. Although there was still some work under way at the site at the time, it was minimal.

“We had less than a handful of contractors that could take assignments and have them continue work,” said Mr. Benoit.

“Everybody else had to go through procurement when they came on board. So it started in October, but it’s really a procurement process, then it’s material delivery, then it’s construction.”

Completion date

The various construction delays will delay completion of the school.

What was supposed to be a construction completion date of September 2011 – in time for the start of the next school year – has been postponed to an undetermined date.

“The best I can tell you right now is through to the end of the project,” Mr. Benoit said.

Chief Education Officer Mary Rodrigues couldn’t give a precise completion date either.

“We know that the public is interested in what’s happening and the progress, especially from the roadside, looking in,” she said. “We have a substantial work crew here and it’s expected to ramp up soon. We’re making progress.”

Education Ministry Senior Policy Adviser Clive Baker said the ministry was aware of the need to get the school completed.

“We’re very conscious that this new facility is a tremendous increase in facility for our students and it all takes time,” he said.

“And that is time in which kids are in their old facilities and they don’t have access to these facilities. And it impacts the kids’ lives. There’s a human factor involved and that human factor is that [delays] disenfranchise the kids.”

But Mr. Baker said that the Education Ministry is glad to have the new construction team in place and moving forward with the work on the new campus.

Mr. Benoit agreed.

“At the end of the day, things are starting to get finished,” he said.

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  1. Can we get some background on Benoit Construction Management Services and their track record of delivering similar projects in the Caribbean? An internet search turned up nothing. What was teh pre-qualifying criteria for their selection.

    The reason for these questions is that we do not want what happened previously to take place again. What happened to the previous consultant hired by the Ministr of Education? What libility does he have for the previous screnario with Tom Jones?

  2. I see somebody going for a ride here and its unfortunately the citizens of Cayman. If theres this much wrong, do as should be done and get a second opinion and get it now before you start spending unnecessary money. Its amazing that this company has identified millions of dollars of work to be done as a result of over/undersized windows. Ever hear of braces or cutting out a piece,lol?

  3. I am glad that the UDP has decided to finish a project that the PPM started. Usually, some parties in other countries would have deliberately left such a project undone, because it was started by opposition. This demonstates that the people’s interest should always be at the forefront, and political parties should always remember that they are working for the people. I just hope PPM or another party would do likewise IF they get back in.