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Puzzle Over The Opening Of New Voi Girls’ Education Centre

Puzzle Over The Opening Of New Voi Girls’ Education Centre

Few experiences can compare to the thrill of riding the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) train at dizzying speeds through the breathtaking Tsavo landscape.

Hundreds of students at Voi Girls Education Center, on the other hand, are disturbed by the distant sound of approaching SGR trains.

Lessons are briefly disrupted whenever the train passes by the low-cost girls’ school.

It’s impossible to hear anything over the din. Students shiver. Others put their hands over their ears to block out the noise.

“The noise bothers us still,” says a Voi girls’ teacher who prefers to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from school officials.

Voi Girls Educational Center is located in Tanzania village on the outskirts of Voi town, within shouting distance of the SGR tracks. 

“There is an outstanding issue on payment owed to the contractor. Once that one is cleared, things can move on,” said the administrator.

The grand institution, known as New Voi Girls School, will house over 400 students.

The new site, which is approximately 10-kilometers from the SGR tracks, is deemed ideal for providing learners with a conducive environment.

Nonetheless, the lengthy wait has become a source of concern for parents, who are now expressing their dissatisfaction with the delay in relocating their daughters.

They describe it as a significant disadvantage that is likely to have an impact on school performance.

Mr. Juma Kombora, Chair of the Parents Association for Voi Girls Education Center, claims that SGR noise and disruption interfere with learning activities. 

“Delays have been the biggest obstacles in this entire project.

From the time the handing over was to be done, there has been a long series of delays that come with additional costs,” he says.

The institution is technically complete, based on Kenya Railways’ designs. It has eight classrooms, four modern labs for computer, biology, chemistry, and physics, a library, four staff houses, an administration block, a one-story dormitory, a kitchen, and a dining hall. Other facilities include a football field, the construction of a drainage system and septic tanks, and the fencing of the school’s 12-acre property.

Despite the splendor of the structures, experts say the institution cannot be occupied by students due to a lack of critical amenities such as water and electricity.

In addition, the initial plans lacked designs for a proper waste-disposal system.

According to the contractor, the school is habitable but will require the installation of a water system and electricity before it can be considered ready.

He says the construction work is finished, but there are some areas that require additional attention before commissioning.

The institution has no running water, and the toilets are powered by water. “That is critical for a girls’ school,” he says.

Plans are being developed to tap into the main Mzima line that supplies Mombasa.

Borehole drilling was deemed a risky venture due to the high cost and uncertainty about whether the water was safe for consumption.

The government has begun power distribution at the institution through the Rural Electrification Authority.

Currently, the new school is completely deserted. To keep vandals at bay, a lone gateman sits by the gate. The emptiness and silence are unsettling. 

The entire compound is unkempt. Thorny bushes, layers of double-thorns, dry undergrowth, and weeds are rapidly spreading across the school’s buildings.

The contractor has hired a few workers who visit the school on occasion to check on the status of the buildings.

Wachira claims that delays and failure to meet deadlines increased overall operational costs.

The most serious disruption was the National Environment Management Authority’s (NEMA) month-long work stoppage due to a lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

This was followed by work disruption from the National Construction Authority (NCA).

“The stoppage hit us hard. The client was to get all approvals and requisite licenses. NEMA and NCA stopped everything at a time we had mobilized massively equipment and manpower,” says the contractor.

There was also an error in the design of the dormitory to accommodate the terrain. After six months, the client sent the new designs.

Due to the delays, the contract period was extended twice. In frustration over regular non-payment, the project consultant eventually abandoned the site.

The institution has been vacant since the construction work was completed in June 2021.

The final inspection took place in January 2022.

Kenya Railway is expected to make the final payment to the contractor in order for the project to be handed over.


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Kenya Railway was supposed to take over the school by the end of February, but the contractor has yet to be paid.

“We are waiting for our payment. The initial cost went up because the project took three years instead of one year.

“Time-related costs like insurance, hiring of guards, and cost of material came as a result of the delays,” says the contractor.

Puzzle Over The Opening Of New Voi Girls’ Education Centre

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