Tonga

Summary – Completion of the Resilient Construction Program in 25 schools under PREP

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1. Background

1.1 Tropical Cyclone Gita and Request for Additional Financing

Tropical Cyclone Gita (TC Gita) struck the Kingdom of Tonga on February 12 & 13, 2018 as a Category 4 Tropical Cyclone. It caused extensive damage and loss to property and public infrastructure, including schools and health facilities, totaling US$164.2 million. Recovery needs exceeded the existing resources of the government, and consequently, the Government of Tonga requested Additional Financing under the World Bank’s Pacific Resilience resulting in the PREPCER-S1 Tonga Schools project (the Project).

TC Gita highlighted the vulnerabiliy of school infrastructure within Tonga. School buildings were affected disproportionately, with the rapid assessment estimating approximately 75 percent of the 150 schools on the main island of Tongatapu as damaged, compared to 25 percent of all residential buildings. Damage and losses to the education sector were estimated in exccess of US$10.2 million, with many classrooms and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in need of repair, retrofitting and reconstruction to higher engineering and more resilient standards. Almost three months after TC Gita struck, nearly 1,200 students continue to attend classes in tents, which in some cases are situated on inundated areas. Many schools operated with inadequate WASH facilities. Urgent reconstruction and repairs are needed to move the students back to a more stable learning environment.

1.2 The Additional Financing, donors & working partners

Component 2 of the parent project was scaled up to include the rebuilding; repairing; and retrofitting of schools damaged by Tropical Cyclone Gita. It aims at strengthen the resilience of buildings and related infrastructure (particularly for schools and health facilities) to better withstand future disaster events. The Additional Financing of US$13.81 million increased the preliminary amount of US$1.69 to a total of US$15.5 to fund the school resilience construction program.

The construction was co-funded by the World Bank (WB) and the Government of Australia. The Project is administered by the Project Management Unit (PMU) under the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Communication and Climate Change (MEIDECC). MEIDECC has been working collaboratively with Ministry of Education and Training (MoET); Ministry of Infrastructure (MoI); Ministry of Land and Natural Resources; and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning for the quality.

2. The School Resilience Construction Program

2.1 Priority Schools identified and construction contracts

The Project was for the design and construction of 25 schools (16 Government, 9 non- Government). 21 in Tongatapu; two in ‘Eua which suffered major damage during TC Gita. Two Government Primary Schools (GPS) in Vava’u were also included in the scope of works.

The twenty-five priority schools were: GPS Navutoka; GPS Fasimoeafi; GPS Vainī; ‘Apifo’ou College; Beulah Primary; GPS Ha’amonga; GPS Kahoua; GPS Feletoa; GPS Taoa; GPS ‘Ohonua; Hōfangahau College; GPS Hoi; GPS Fāhefa; GPS Matahau; Mo’unga’olive College; Talafo’ou Middle School; Tāpunisiliva; GPS Nuku’alofa; Tonga College; Tupou High School; Beaulah Adventist College; GPS Holonga; Tonga Police College; and Takuilau College; GPS Ma’ufanga; and Queen Sālote College. These schools were grouped into 7 packages based on the urgency of the need for classrooms.

Cardo, an Australian Company was contracted as the Design and Supervision Firm. Contract Agreements were signed by 10 local construction companies (including one for a WASH only). Due to the urgent need for students and teachers to be in a much safer learning environment, the contracted completion period was 120 days. However, challenges and problems caused delays.

2.2 The Constructions

2.2.1 Some details

The ground breaking for the school resilience construction program was held at GPS Navutoka on October 8th, 2019 by the Prime Minister, Honourable Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa. The construction began at GPS Navutoka on the 14th October 2019, whose new classrooms were the first to be commissioned on Feburary 11th, 2020. The constructions of the remaining 24 schools also started and gained momentum thereafter.

On the 28th May 2021, the classrooms of the 25th and last school (Tonga Police College) were commissioned by the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, His Excellency Adrian Morrison. It took 18 months, 2 weeks and 6 days (8th Oct 2019 – 28th May 2021) to complete the school resilience construction program in 25 schools. The duration of the constructions at each school ranges from 4 – 10 months with an average of 5.8 months.

The total number of school buildings constructed were 43, of which 33 were reconstructed and 10 were repaired/retrofitted. There are 125 classrooms in total, of which 88 with an area of 50 m2 (a Mnistry of Education size), to accommodate approximately 25 – 30 students. 37 classrooms were repaired/retrofitted with various sizes. The number of classrooms in each building ranges from 2 to 6. Of the 33 reconstructed buildings, there are 15 two classroom halls; 7 three classroom halls; and 2 four classroom halls; all are partitioned with wondoors that could be drawn to form halls. 8 of these 33 school buildings have a store room.

The buildings are better, stronger, durable and more resilient, which will last for approximately more than 50 years. The rebuilt and repaired/retrofitted classrooms are equipped with whiteboards and pinboards (mobile & fixed). For safety purposes: fire alarms; fire extinguisher cylinders; toughened glass louvres; and security screens are installed. The floors are tiled. The defect liability period is one year from the date of the taking-over certificate. Most of the building materials are on warranty, ranging from 3 to 10 years, such as the roof sheeting (10 years), wondoors (3 years) and floor tiling (5 years). In addition to the construction of the school buildings, water tanks were also provided for drinking water.

These 125 classrooms benefit approximately 7119 students (excluding the 2 additional schools with WASH only). With the completion of the WASH facilities, the number of beneficiaries will approximately 9026 students.

The cost for the constructions for each school, ranges from TOP$312,600.00 to TOP$3,126,818.00, depending on the: amount of work done (rebuild or repair/retrofit) and the contracted bids. The total cost for the construction of school buildings is about TOP$21.3 million, excluding the provisional sum and variations.

ENDS

For further information contact: ‘Elina Kaufusi Bloomfield, t: (676) 23-160, e: elinakb1466@yahoo.com.au , PREP Project Management Unit (PMU), Level 4, OG Sanft Building, MEIDECC