Hopewell High accused of breaching building codeWednesday, February 10, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
HOPEWELL, Hanover — The administration of Hopewell High School in Hanover has been summoned to appear in the Lucea Parish Court on March 23 for alleged breaches of the local building code.
The court documents were served on the vice-principal Monday after the school was accused of disregarding a cease and desist order served last week by the Hanover Municipal Corporation.
“We got information that buildings were being built at the school without the approval of the Ministry of Education and the parish council (municipal corporation). When we checked with our parish council we realised that there was no plan there. When we checked with the ministry, they had none either,” said Craig Oates, compliance and enforcement officer for the Hanover Municipal Corporation.
Oates and his team visited the school last week Wednesday when there was a reported stand-off, for about an hour and a half, before they were allowed on the compound.
“We realised that about three or four buildings were being built without permission. We went back there on Thursday with two officers from the Ministry of Education and we realised that the school itself did not get any permission from the education ministry, so that is a blatant breach,” Oates said.
The enforcement officer noted that while no work was observed taking place Monday, there was evidence of continued work following the serving of the notice last week.
Oates further gave a breakdown of the multimillion-dollar project.
“You have one that they called an isolation room, you have a corridor converted into a classroom, three buildings that are classrooms and a guardhouse,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
The enforcement officer further noted that he will not only be submitting a written report to chief executive officer of the corporation David Gardner, and the Ministry of Education, but a recommendation will be made for the Integrity Commission to launch an investigation.
He made it clear that “there is no suspicion” the school had breached the procurement guidelines in the Ministry of Education for such a large construction.
Efforts to contact the principal and vice-principal of the school proved futile as in one instance, when this reporter identified himself, the call was terminated. Subsequent calls to the school went unanswered.
Dr Michelle Pinnock, the Ministry of Education's Region Four director, told the Observer that, while the ministry will be ensuring that the school adheres to the local government guidelines, the ministry is also undertaking an investigation.
“So, construction work has stopped. We are going to be complying with the Ministry of Local Government through the parish council and we are going to do all the structural things. And, we are going to do all our investigations as to the procedures that were followed,” stated Dr Pinnock.
“They [the school] wanted to ensure that the children come in and stuff like that so they wanted to build the additional classrooms, but the procedures have to be followed,” she added in reference to protocols being put in place by schools to adhere to the Ministry of Health and Wellness guidelines to be given the green light for the resumption of face-to-face classes.
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