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PESHAWAR: The Provincial Reconstruction Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (PaRRSA) has set up a special unit to ensure speedy yet quality work on the reconstruction of schools destroyed by militancy and floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The establishment of the ‘construction unit’ was suggested by USAID, which has pledged to finance reconstruction of around 80 schools in the province, according to officials in the know.

The officials said donor agencies, especially USAID, was disappointed with the slow work on part of the communication and works department to rebuild destroyed schools.

PaRRSA forms unit to ensure fast, quality work on educational institutions destroyed by militants, floods

He said donors also complained about poor quality of work.

According to the officials, initially, the unit will ensure reconstruction of around 80 schools in different parts of the province.

These schools were completely destroyed either in bomb blasts by militants and the 2010 flashfloods.

“Of the 80 schools to be rebuilt, 12 were those work on which was suspended by contractors over interference in their affairs by the relevant communication and works officials,” an official said.

The official said donors had expressed annoyance and reservations a year ago when reports emerged about the poor reconstruction work in Swat schools.

He said the material used in the reconstruction exercise was so substandard that the roofs of rebuilt schools leaked during rains.

According to other officials, after learning about substandard reconstruction of schools, USAID, a major financer of reconstruction of schools, was very upset and that it demanded creation of a separate unit at PaRRSA purely to monitor reconstruction.

They said USAID would fully fund the said rebuilt schools.

The officials didn’t know the cost of the schools’ reconstruction but said each primary school to be rebuilt would have six well-equipped classrooms and all necessary facilities.

They said engineers, technicians and other staff for the unit were being hired, while PaRRSA would also engage monitors to ensure quality work and its timely completion.

The officials said the problems faced by contractors while dealing with the C&W officials would end after the establishment of the PaRRSA reconstruction unit.

“If the reconstruction unit delivers the goods to the optimum level, the provincial government might task it with executing development schemes like construction of new schools,” an official said.

Currently, the construction of schools is done by the C&W department.

The officials said the formation of different committees was under consideration to help identify future projects.

They said PaRRSA had already conducted a survey to identify schools completely destroyed either by militants or by floods.

According to them, a USAID delegation recently met PaRRSA director general Mohammad Tahir and discussed progress on the projects funded by its organisation, especially those on education.

The delegation comprised USAID deputy mission director for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata Gregory Huger, deputy director Johan Crihfield and US consul general for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Jon Danilowicz.

The officials said visitors wanted PaRRSA to hire staff for the project without delay for early start of work on it.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2014