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School scandal / Chaitan: I gave go-ahead

By Curtis Williams

Despite numerous reports which suggested it would have been unsafe to have teachers and students occupy the Biche Secondary School, the Basdeo Panday administration was willing to place children in the school on the recommendation of then junior energy minister William Chaitan.

Chaitan yesterday admitted he had recommended to the then Cabinet the school was safe to use and it had accepted his recommendation.
He said: “I am a geologist and a geophysicist and when I was asked to look into the matter there were nine reports. I looked at each of them and paid two visits to the site. When I did my analysis, I told the Cabinet it was perfectly safe to house the students and the Cabinet accepted it.”

Chaitan’s revelation came as the controversy surrounding the Panday administration’s construction of ten schools widened with discovery that a Pan American Health Organisation’s report had warned children should not be placed in the school because “there is a high quality of oil seepage and the children should not be exposed to toxic and explosive gases”.

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