11 May 2018

Rwanda: Rwf1 Billion Equipment Lies Idle for 3 Years at Musanze School

An assortment of training equipment and consumables has been lying idle at Busogo Technical School in Musanze District for the last three years, The New Times has established.

The equipment are comprised of 165 different items, including consumables, all valued at Rwf1 billion and were meant to be used for practical lessons in hospitality at the school, also known by the French acronym, ESTB.

Some of the items have since expired or gone bad, especially food items and beverages that were supposed to be used during practical lessons.

Some machines are also rusting away and getting obliterated in a conference hall where they have been kept since 2015.

How it all started

Jérôme Habanabakize, the ESTB manager, explained that in 2014, through the Skills Development Project (SDP), Workforce Development Authority (WDA), gave them funds to build a hospitality block but later on a contractor failed deliver on their commitments and abandoned the project.

Construction works, which were expected to last six months at the cost of Rwf1.5bn, were effectively halted with the company, New Business Centre Ltd, claiming to have run bankrupt.

However, WDA went ahead and delivered the equipment (mainly for Culinary Arts), even as the building in which they were to be set had been abandoned unfinished.

Habanabakize admitted that it was incomprehensible that the training equipment and consumables lay unused for three years.

"The consequences are many, as you can see some of them can never be put to use, like the consumables that expired. Even for the machines, we are concerned that they are expensive and we never got a chance to test them to know if they were in good working condition, yet warranty may have expired already," he said.

Habanabakize said the issue is beyond the school management, adding that they have petitioned WDA, the Ministry of Education and Parliament in vain.

Some students from the school who spoke to The New Times expressed disappointment about the situation.

"We have been deprived of the opportunity to use this state-of-the-art equipment and it has affected the quality of our learning," said Deogratias Hatangishatse, a Level 3 student in Culinary Arts.

He added: "We need this issue resolved as soon as possible, so that we can use both the building and the materials."

Teachers at ESTB echoed their students' sentiments stressing that they continue to conduct lessons in theory, which does not fit with the demands of the labour market.

"Students need hands-on training," one of them said on condition of anonymity because they are no authorised to speak to the media about the issue.

Jean Damascène Habyarimana, the Mayor of Musanze, said the district was not involved in the decision to deliver the training equipment to the school and it was not privy to the circumstances under which the contractor abandoned the works.

But he pointed an accusing fingers at WDA over the situation.

Reports efforts to talk to WDA officials were futile, while officials at the Ministry of Education declined to comment only referring this reporter to WDA.

However, The New Times has since learnt that a new tender to finalise the block has been handed to a different contractor.

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