Oman's education ministry building turns into a nine-year project

03 February 2013
Muscat: The new building project of the Ministry of Education has entered its eighth year and remains unfinished, amidst heated arguments between ministry officials and the contractor.

Sources from the Ministry of Education told Times of Oman that the building project needs an extra year for the completion of the final touches.

Majlis Al Shura members had demanded penalty against those responsible for the delay of the ministry's new building in a previous session with the Minister of Education.Minister of Education Dr Madiha bint Ahmed Al Shibaniyah said she had personally followed up on the project and had noted increased spending on the building because of the high prices of the building materials. Times of Oman published a story on June 21, 2011, titled 'Minister's call to speed up work on new building'.

Dr Madiha was reportedly unhappy with the tardy pace of construction work on the new building, Times of Oman has learnt. The minister had conducted an inspection of the construction site in the Airport Heights area in 2011 to check the progress of the work.

A statement from the Ministry of Education noted that Dr Madiha had met with members of the project supervising committee, the project manager and the contractor involved in the project. According to sources at the Ministry of Education who were present during the minister's visit, Dr Madiha made her displeasure known in plain words. "This is not the work we were waiting for," the source quoted her as saying.

Dr Madiha was made the minister of education in the last Cabinet reshuffle of the Omani government more than two years ago. The source added that the inspection visit by the minister had also witnessed "heated arguments" between one of the ministry's senior officials and the project contractor.

Security issues
Technical errors have reportedly been found in the laboratory and emergency exits, putting the safety and security of the building into question. For his part, the building's contractor, Saif Al Akzami, has denied allegations that the work has been delayed because he is overseeing other projects simultaneously.

He said he has worked on school projects as a contractor for more than 30 years in the Sultanate and had been awarded the ministry's building project four years ago through a tender of OMR11 million.  However, the costs had escalated over time because of the increased cost of materials needed for the project and changes in plans, including additions requested by the Ministry of Education, Saif claimed.

Cost escalation
A senior official of the Ministry of Education told Times of Oman that the money spent on the project had gone up from OMR11 million to more than OMR22 million so far. He said the cost could even cross OMR35 million if the delays continued.

Munir bin Baqir Al Moussawi, secretary of the Supreme Committee for Town Planning and representative of the Tender Committee of the Commission for the building, is providing advice to complete the project on time.

Meanwhile, Dr Madiha has stressed on the need for all parties concerned to speed up the work and complete the project soon.

© Times of Oman 2013


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