The estimated budget to build a new government primary school in Msida has spiralled to some €20 million – double the estimated price declared by the Education Ministry just three years ago.
In the most recent blunder by the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools, led by Neville Young, PRA Construction Limited, a company owned by Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli and his two associates, Mark Agius known as ta’ Dirjanu, and Comino deckchair operator Daniel Refalo, were awarded a new €10 million contract for mechanical, electrical and finishing works at the new school.
This contract tops another €7 million contract, given to the same company by direct order, to carry out remedial construction works at the school, as half of the newly built structure had to be completely pulled down and rebuilt as shoddy work threatened the stability of the whole building.
Announced six years ago, the Msida Primary had to open its doors to an estimated 300 pupils in 2019 at a cost of €10 million.
Yet four years later, the project is still at the basic construction stage.
The €17 million project given to Portelli and his associates to top this cost does not further expenses that need to be incurred to provide the school with furniture and specialised educational tools and facilities.
“The school is costing taxpayers more than €66,000 per student so far, and this is still not the final bill. It must be the most expensive school ever built in Europe,” an official at the Education Ministry told The Shift.
The school is located in Minister Clifton Grima’s district.
Asked recently by PN MP Joe Giglio whether the ministry has taken any legal action against those responsible for the defective structural works, Minister Grima said the Foundation has only, so far, sent an official letter to Perit Frank Ellul of MADE Studios to hold him responsible for the waste of public funds.
The school’s building’s defects were discovered over two years ago. The FTS has not taken the architect to court so far.
The minister did not give Giglio a new date when the school will host its new students.
Sources at the FTS added that it was unusual for the building of a new school in Malta to be given to Gozitan construction companies. They explained that since no one wanted to take any responsibility for the shoddy work, only Joseph Portelli agreed to finish the job.