Monday, June 17, 2024

Of 5,000 quake-damaged schools, only 80 have been repaired

Only 80 of 5,000 Oaxaca schools that were damaged by the powerful earthquakes of September 2017 have been fully repaired, according to state lawmakers.

Pavel Meléndez Cruz, president of the Oaxaca Congress special reconstruction committee, said that work is currently being carried out at just 400 of the schools that still require repairs.

Projects at other schools have been abandoned because the builders weren’t paid, he said.

Meléndez said the committee he leads will ask authorities to carry out an investigation to determine what happened to the funds allocated for the rebuilding and repair of damaged schools.

The local branch of the SNTE teachers’ union has also denounced the lack of progress in repairing damaged education infrastructure, pointing out that thousands of students have been unable to return to their schools and have been forced to find alternative arrangements.

Teachers participated in a protest march in Oaxaca city on Friday to demand reconstruction be expedited, the newspaper El Universal reported.

According to a letter sent to the SNTE union on August 29, the federal government is committed to rebuilding and repairing Oaxaca schools damaged by the September 2017 quakes, the first of which caused extensive damage in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region.

Signed by Agrarian Development and Urban Planning Secretary Román Meyer Falcón, the letter states that reconstruction projects in schools where no work has yet been completed will start either today or in the first week of October.

Projects in schools where work has been suspended will resume on Tuesday, the letter said.

The government also committed to the resumption of payments for the builders undertaking the work but the letter didn’t indicate when the projects will be completed.

However, an undersecretary at the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning indicated that 90% of school repairs are expected to be completed by 2020. David Cervantes also said that the government allocated 2.5 billion pesos (US $127.7 million) for school repairs this year.

About 20,000 schools in several states were damaged in the September 7 and 19 earthquakes that shook southern and central Mexico

President López Obrador announced on July 1 that funds for the construction, maintenance and repair of school buildings will be allocated directly to committees made up of teachers, parents and students after an earlier announcement that the National Institute of Physical Infrastructure for Education would be dissolved.

Pablo Iván Ángeles Guzmán, a structural engineer and academic at the National Autonomous University, warned against the plan because “there is a high risk that the rebuilding of schools will be at the discretion of people who are not professionals in construction and restoration.”

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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