Trinidad and Tobago– The Waterloo Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Primary School has been closed as a result of a blaze triggered by a bush fire, which destroyed part of the main building on Saturday.
The Ministry of Education said the fire occurred at around 11.40 a.m. destroying two classrooms- First Year Infant and science room and the washroom area.
The Ministry of Education said there was significant damage to the electrical wiring, lighting, ceiling, concrete walls, aluminum windows, wooden rafters, batch board, galvanize sheets and plumbing lines.
Furniture and students books were also destroyed. The fire was extinguished with quick help from firefighters at the Couva Fire Station and was confined to two classrooms and the washroom areas of the school. Personnel from the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) visited the school and have since disconnected the electricity supply as a safety measure. A full investigation by the Fire Prevention Unit attached to the Chaguanas Fire Station is being carried out to ascertain the cause of the fire.
On Sunday, a team from the ministry toured the school along with its principal and a meeting has been planned for Monday to discuss and finalise plans to temporarily relocate the pupils. Repairs are expected to be undertaken by the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL).
Secretary General of the SDMS, Satnarayan Maharaj told the Express on Monday: As far as we know, there was a bush fire outside the school compound on Friday and apparently it reignited on Saturday and spread to parts of the school. The annex has been destroyed, the sewer and electrical. We met with the Ministry of Education to discuss the relocation of the school.
The SDMS is proposing to have the Standard Five and Four pupils relocated to the nearby Indo Caribbean Museum, a building that previously housed the pupils. Maharaj said the rest will go on a shift system at the Orange Field Hindu Primary School together with pupils of that school with the exception of the Standard Five and Four pupils who will attend classes for the entire day. The Waterloo Primary School has a pupil population of just under 200 and the Orange Field Hindu School has a pupil population of just under 400.
Maharaj said: We have a proposal with the ministry that they will fix the sewer and the electrical and we will fix the annex because a lot of concerned people have been calling us and offering financial support so we are hoping that work could start immediately. The cost for repairs has not yet been finalised.
Within four weeks, all work will be completed, Maharaj said, and classes should resume this week.