EDUCATION Minister Douglas Syakalima says government needs over K70 million to rehabilitate more than 446 schools whose roofs have been blown off, countrywide.

Speaking in parliament, Tuesday, Syakalima said someone must be answerable in order to avoid such wasteful expenditure in future.

“Generally speaking, there are quite so many countrywide roofs blown off and we are taking all the roofs which were blown off as an emergency. Again, it comes back to the way these contractors were probably doing the works. How is it that you can have more than 446 roofs blown off countrywide in all the schools? Something went wrong somewhere and this will cost government about K70 million. So this is why I think it is the last wasted and decayed [which] should never resurface again,” he said.

“In Central Province, there are about 38 blown off roofs, Northern 21, Copperbelt 41, Eastern 47, Luapula 52, Lusaka 23, Muchinga 54, North Western 60 and Southern Province 73. This is poor workmanship which should never be tolerated. If there was proper workmanship, we could not have been looking for over K70 million. How many schools can you build in this? Somebody must be answerable somewhere.”

Syakalima said government would not tolerate shoddy works where a contractor expects to get a lot of money out of doing nothing.

“We will make sure that next time, whenever a structure is being put up, there is strict adherence to the engineering of construction. Probably it is the people that we engage as contractors. So just mark the next season when I will be in charge, this time around, all the contractors that were doing bad jobs under the previous government must be on the lookout. We are not going to tolerate shoddy works and then you get a lot of money out of doing nothing. That will not be tolerated,” he said.

“We are mobilising using DMMU and I would not tell off cuff whether we already have money. We are taking this as an emergency. It is actually countrywide that classroom roofs blow off. So this is why you heard the Minister of Finance saying within that CDF, there is a provision for smaller works like if the classroom roof is blown off instead of coming to the central government, going forward the money will be found within the constituency or the ward involved.”

Syakalima urged members of parliament to be supervisors and aim for perfection in all awarded contracts.

“In fact, some of these blown off roofs are CDF related constructions. So it cannot be a central place around here. What we want to warn people is that whatever you do, you must do it with perfection whether you are at the central headquarters, provincial, district, constituency or simply the council that supervises CDF. Since you are going to have more money in CDF, you are part of the supervisors as MPs to check that our buildings last. A building is supposed to last more than 50 years,” said Syakalima.

“We must also learn in our vocabulary that there is no maintenance because that is where the problem comes in again. We should make sure that even if the money will be there to allow maintenance, let us ensure that this word is not on our lips. Everybody must see to it that the money is put to good use. Government is coordinating resource mobilisation with DMMU and local authorities to rehabilitate the schools before the onset of the rainy season.”