Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw has ordered an audit into the unfinished School Meals Centre at Six Roads, which began construction six years ago under the Democratic Labour Party government.
Declaring that the DLP should be “ashamed of itself”, she detailed a litany of woe at the Six Roads facility.
The building was expected to improve accommodations for the staff of the School Meals Department (SMD) now headquartered in Country Road, The City, and double as a mass feeding centre in times of natural disaster.
“This facility that has been built out started costing us $19 million but today, some six years later, it is at a cost of $26 million and counting.
“Contractors have been paid, architects have been paid, all the project consultants have been paid, machinery and equipment have been ordered and is in the facility, some of it installed, a large percentage of it not installed, the kitchen floor has not been complete and therefore there are unable to complete the project,” she said.
Six years on, the centre was still not fully operational, Bradshaw said, adding it would have been ideal to not only provide more nutritious meals for the nation’s children, but to facilitate the training and retooling of workers.
“Then when I go up there and see the state of the facility, incomplete and nobody can ask the pertinent question about how a Cabinet of Barbados could authorize the payments of all the monies to the parties and not a word to the electorate of Barbados prior to the last election. The Democratic Labour Party needs to be ashamed of itself,” Bradshaw insisted.
Back in April 2013, the then Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harry Husbands, listed a range of benefits expected from the new centre, including improvement in staff morale due to better working conditions in terms of ventilation, space and building design; improved staff communication; easier access to employees for disseminating information; defined areas for the preparation of meals; adequate storage space for dry and refrigerated stock and an adequate loading and delivery base.
Bradshaw further revealed other concerns in her ministry, saying she discovered that “lots of money had been spent badly.
“People have been engaged in the Ministry of Education as consultants, paid over $7000 a month from 2012 to be able to advise the Minister of Education on deviant behaviour and children at risk across the educational system… and we can still find school children across this country engaging in deviant behaviour and remaining at risk.
“We have an administration previously who would slaughter what was left of the tertiary education system … but would not come to the people and account for the $7, 500, that they could have used to pay for students to be able to go to university.”
Bradshaw who is preparing to undergo treatment for breast cancer said she would be back to clean up house.
“I am coming back to unravel more things and talk about them,” she said.