The failure of the Upper East Regional Chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alhaji Mumuni Bolnaba, to complete an 18-unit classroom block at the Zorko Senior High School in the Bongo District has attracted the wrath of the District Chief Executive for Bongo, Peter Ayinbisa.
Bolnaba Construction Company won the contract in 2011 but has since failed to execute it, leaving the fate of teachers and student in unbearable infrastructural difficulties. This came to light on Monday January 5, 2018 when the DCE led a team of selected heads of departments in the district to the school to have first-hand information about the challenges confronting the school.
Mr. Ayinbisa who was visibly sad about the plight of the school warned that government will have no option than to get back to the Ghana Education Fund (GETFund) to possibly terminate the contract and re-award it if Alhaji Bolnaba fails to complete the project within a reasonable time frame.
“In fact, if I don’t know at all, I’m sure he was given between eighteen to twenty-four months to execute this project. It’s now about seven years and up to now, I cannot say that this work is eighty per cent complete. So, I think that the government is doing its part – quite recently we heard that government had made fifty percent payment to GETFund contractors. I’m sure he [Alhaji Bolnaba] also had his share of that payment. So he should quickly come back to site to help our children. Otherwise, we have no option than to get back to GETFund and ask them, possibly, to terminate the contractor and re-award it.” The DCE warned.
According to him, the contractor was not serious with the work and advised him to return to site and get the project executed if he does not want to lose it. He said: “I’m appealing to him to get back to site as soon as possible so that our children will get decent places to sit down and take tuitions. Their colleagues elsewhere are sitting under conducive environment and they are idling, running left, right, center not knowing where to sit. I think it’s not good.”
He further said: “And we the northerners, we are the ones doing ourselves. We are doing a disservice to our own people. This is a northern contractor who has taken so many contracts upon himself. He is not able to do it and we keep giving the same contractor so many jobs to do when he doesn’t have the capacity, the financial muscles, to be able to do it. I believe if you go round all the schools, this is not the only contract he is executing. Perhaps, he is doing many other contracts and it’s not helping us. So I’m appealing to Alhaji Bolnaba, to as a matter of urgency, to quickly come back to site. He should quickly come back to site.”
Making reference to a skeleton site men at work at the time of his visit, who probably heard the DCE was visiting the place and so decided to be at post, the angrily looking DCE said: “You see what they are doing, by next week, they will run out of this place and the place will come back to a ghost town and I don’t think that is helping us.
When contacted, Alhaji Bolnaba admitted the contract has delayed but explained it was so because government also failed to release money for the completion of the project. He corroborated the DCE’s position that government recently released money for some contractors as he admitted the government has paid him all the money needed for the project to be completed.
“I know that the way the children are suffering is not fine. I know and want to say that I my workers have started work and we will not stop until we complete it.”
Meanwhile, teachers and students of the school are bearing the brunt as they are faced with huge infrastructural challenges that are seriously retarding academic work of the school. With a student population of 1,010 and 42 teaching staff, the school has very limited classroom accommodation, lack of hostel facilities, a dining hall, a library, an administration block and toilet facilities. Some students who spoke to TopNews Ghana said life on campus was terribly unbearable.
The students are currently living in rented houses located within the Zorko community. Most of these houses are full of deep cracks and show signs of collapsing should there be a major rainstorm.
The headmaster of the school, Alhaji Seidu Tahiru Anyagri admitted the challenges confronting teachers and students are threats to teaching and learning and called on the government to swiftly intervene.