Following Cabinet’s approval to conduct renovations at the Government Industrial School (GIS), at Dodds, St. Philip, phase one of the $1.4 million project began on June 20, and is currently on schedule for a September 9 completion date.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, along with ministry officials and board members of the GIS, this morning toured the facility to see the renovations, which are to facilitate the transfer of females from Barrows, St. Lucy, as well as to upgrade existing structures.
Minister Wilfred Abrahams explained that the renovations and proposed relocation for the girl wards were in keeping with Government’s decision to make sure that wards of the institution had adequate, comfortable and safe facilities, in addition to access to educational programmes, during their retention.
“My concern is making down here (GIS) as comfortable, as habitable as nurturing and as conducive to the rehabilitation and the forward development of the young persons who are in our care…. This is a fantastic facility….Out here feels different to St. Lucy; the buildings look different [and] the resources we’re going to put in place are different; the opportunities we’re going to present are different. We want to have a fresh start on the ninth of September. A fresh start, fresh curriculums, fresh outlook, fresh programmes, that’s what we want….,” Minister Abrahams stated.
Managing Director of Front House Design Studio, Raquel Thompson, in her capacity as Project Manager, gave an overview of the renovations that would take place at the St. Philip facility.
“We’re doing the mess hall; we are doing the staff lounge; we are upgrading the clinic and doing a small extension to the clinic. In the clinic, there are going to be two doctors or nurses’ offices. We are renovating the recreation block that is to include classrooms, computer rooms and a library.
“We are basically upgrading the girls’ dorm to allow for privacy and security for the girls, [and] we are doing some minor things in the boys’ dorm, mainly some touching up of the floors and the walls and bringing their quarantine accommodation up to scratch. In the detention block, we are making those rooms fit for purpose and upgrading security throughout the campus,” Ms. Thompson disclosed.
She pointed out that the security component of the renovations also includes the setting up of cameras in both dormitories to facilitate monitoring by staff.
Ms. Thompson noted that so far, phase one of the project is on schedule, and that the contractors, CRS Building and Maintenance Inc., have been moving “pretty quickly”.
Minister Abrahams shared that barring no delays, the five females presently being housed at the Barrows, St. Lucy location, will be relocated to the St. Philip facility, once phase one was completed, and the Barrows, St. Lucy facility would be turned over to the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance.
Also present on the tour today were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Information, Deborah Payne; acting Deputy Principal at the Government Industrial School, Seilest Bradshaw; Chairman of the Board, Reverend Dr. Lucille Baird; Deputy Chairman of the Board, Dr. Carl Ward; DLN Consultants Inc.’s Engineer, Matthew Lashley, and Managing Director of CRS Building and Maintenance Inc., Sydney Blenman.