Reality check as ceilings cave in at Oodi College
From the outside appearance, the new Oodi College of Applied Arts and Technology (OCAAT) is an epitome of sheer structural elegance, but inside, the institution harbours shoddy infrastructural defects.
As the countdown to the official opening slated for May this year fast approaches, the school’s infrastructural safety and readiness remain in doubt.
Last week Friday the institution’s woes continued after a cooling system at the administration block broke and spilled chlorine on the ceiling and floor, causing damage worth over P200 000. Security guards had to be called at night to assist some of the Chinese contractors to move furniture and remove the red liquid that had flooded the ground floor.
The situation has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the accounting department at the Ministry of Education and skills Development who seem to have cost the government coffers by dishing out cheques to consultants without effectively keeping a close eye on the progress of the multi-million Pula project.
The state of the art college that is located at Oodi village was initially intended to open for the first intake of students in September last year before it was moved to January this year and then to May due to continued poor graphic readiness. With the opening day fast approaching, indications are that the date is likely to be postponed to a later date and talk is that it may be moved to October.
Accusing fingers have been pointed to the main contractor, Tuwana Construction who have been blamed for the seemingly poor quality infrastructure. This week the company’s Managing Director, Lawrence Nasha distanced the company from the blame insisting that sub-contractors were to blame for the shoddy job. “This is a huge project and it must be understood that as the main contractor we sub-contract certain aspects of the project to other companies and it’s not fair that all the blame has to be heaped on us. For example, the initial delay was due to the setting up of the Black Water treatment plant. It took consultants close to 15 months to decide if it was necessary to order the equipment from the Middle East.”
The other major delay at the college was the cabling for the IT and Multimedia equipment that were to enable the networking of support programmes as well as communication with the outside world.
“We had sub-contracted one of the local companies and when inspectors came to assess the project they realized that the cabling was sub-standard. We sub-contracted another company which has so far done a great job,” Nasha said.
On January 28, Uttum Corea the Director General of the National Strategy office at the Office of the President visited the college on a routine ground monitoring exercise and he expressed displeasure at the state of the swimming pool that, he said, needed the services of a resident maintenance officer. He also expressed displeasure at the state of the tennis, volleyball and netball courts that he said were substandard as they held water during rainy seasons.
“The consultants recommended a South African company to undertake play grounds and if anything they should be the ones to blame. Tuwana has been in the country for more than 13 years and has dealt with major projects and it’s only in certain fields that subcontractors seem to take a ride on us and we get the blame,” Nasha said.
Meanwhile shortage of qualified staff remains the biggest challenge for the institution that will be providing certificate and diploma courses in applied arts and information technology.
But OCAAT Principal, Mildred Boduwe remains optimistic that the college will eventually achieve its objectives. She, however, would not be drawn into commenting on the infrastructural problems of the college, but admitted that the delay was a concern.