Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 01, 2016 (SKNIS): The Government of National Unity has selected Ponds Site to be the location of the new Basseterre High School (BHS), said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Honourable Shawn Richards, speaking at a recent press conference.
In previous announcements, five sites were indicated by the Ministry of Sustainable Development as suitable locations for the new school including a site in Shadwell, an area just opposite of the University of Health Sciences, the old BHS, an area just next to TDC and an area in Needsmust.”
A number of concerns were raised from each area including proximity, disturbance from the airport, relocating a number of mechanics, building on an area designated as the Basseterre Valley National Park, which is also the location of an aquifer, and psychological issues which may arise even if the old school is knocked down and rebuilt.
To date, two sites were singled out by the various committees put in place to make an informed decision. The locations include the area at Ponds Site immediately behind the mechanic shops and the Shadwell site which is located near the entrance into Monkey Hill.
“Coming from all of the reports that had been received, a decision has been taken to locate the new Basseterre High School in the Ponds Site area,” said Minister Richards. “However, in coming to that particular decision, as I said, we not only reviewed the reports provided by the team of water experts because we wanted to be extremely certain that mitigating factors can be put in place to ensure that there is no contamination of the water table in that particular area. Additionally, the site that we looked at in the Shadwell area, we asked Sustainable Development to give some advice on it.”
The Education Minister said that was requested because there are number of mechanics which have already been allocated lands at the site.
“The report coming back from Sustainable Development indicates that it would cost the government some $1.1 million to relocate the mechanics who are currently there,” said the minister. “Additionally, what we have heard from the architects is that because of the topography of the land there, quite a significant amount of money would also have to be spent to grade the land in such a way that it can accommodate a new school.”
He further added that there were also concerns about the fact that there would be disturbance from the planes as the location is in the flight path.
The minister said that construction will not be able to begin this year as was planned but what has been done is that a committee has been put in place to advise the Cabinet on the way forward with regards to the construction of the school. The government is taking into consideration issues such as putting out the tenders for the design for the school, financing and its ultimate construction.
Minister Richards said that there is still a commitment towards building the news school and that is why the government has been diligent thus far. The minister reminded that $10 million has already been budgeted for construction.