23rd November, 2018
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (KYSS FM) – Just shy of four years into the Team Unity administration, it has been revealed that construction of the new Basseterre High School (BHS) is scheduled to commence before the end of 2018, on land that has been identified as part of the Basseterre aquifer.
This was disclosed at the recent Prime Minister’s press conference and seemingly confirmed by postings on the Facebook page of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Hon. Shawn Richards.
Photos of the cleared land area for construction as well as artists’ rendition of the completed school triggered extensive responses from the general public.
The abandoning of the former campus of the Basseterre High School, on Victoria Road, has been a very contentious issue. There were a number of persons who contended that the campus’ environment was the source of a number of medical outbreaks on teachers and students.
Despite no provision of a long promised environmental impact assessment, construction is set to begin. Exactly one year ago, Hon. Ian “Patches” Liburd, Minister with responsibility for Public Infrastructure, Posts, Urban Development and Transport, indicated that his government is just awaiting the conclusion of the environmental impact study to be done so that work on the new school can be accelerated.
The construction of a new high school was one of the major offerings of the Team Unity Manifesto. An excerpt from the manifesto reads “Ensure that the tragedy at the Basseterre High School will never happen again via proper schools’ maintenance, and health, safety and environmental audits, etc.”
Citing the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report that was released in June of 2015, the Labour Party has maintained that the whole issue was exacerbated because of politicization. One excerpt stated, “As far as we could determine the prior building and sewer problems at BHS had been adequately addressed, but additional repairs (for example, the metal roof over the wood shop and machine shop) are needed, and all unfinished renovation work needs to be completed prior to reoccupying the school.”