Serious structural defects in the construction of a new Msida primary school, sections of which had to be demolished, have already cost taxpayers the enormous sum of €2.3 million.
Despite declarations that the government will open a court case against the architects commissioned by the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools that it believes are mainly accountable for the costly debacle, the only tangible action taken so far was the sending of an official letter.
The new Msida Primary School was slated to open its doors in 2019 but it is still under construction and is now expected to cost taxpayers more than double its original budget.
Education Minister Clifton Grima has now told Parliament that the mistakes made at the school have already cost taxpayers €2.3 million. Grima was, following weeks of refusing to answer questions about the project, replying to a parliamentary question tabled by Opposition MP Joe Giglio.
Grima explained how when it was determined that parts of the building were structurally defective, sections had to be demolished and rebuilt.
The original contractor, C&F Building Contractors, was asked to carry out the job and the bill for that partial demolition alone amounted to over €300,000.
The total estimated cost to correct the structural defects is now expected to surpass the €2 million mark in additional construction work, the minister also confirmed.
Pressed to state who was responsible for the debacle, Grima said the FTS is holding architect Frank Ellul of Made Studios and his team responsible.
A court case has not yet been opened, Grima confirmed but said FTS has filed an official letter against the architects.
The Shift has already reported that work was halted for several months over disagreements on how to proceed but that the project has now been awarded by direct order to a construction company controlled by Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli.
The minister, however, refrained from giving details on that and said the school is still in its construction phase and its completion “has not been contracted yet”.
The project was first announced in 2017 with then-education minister Evarist Bartolo said the new school would begin enrolling students in 2019. Work started in 2018 but the school is nowhere near completion.
The original tender for the school’s construction amounted to €3.3 million but the latest direct order given to PRA Construction Ltd for the same work will now cost €7 million.