Engineer Who Adopted Bua School

The reconstruction of the main building of Coboi Sanatan Primary School in Bua is expected to be completed by this week. This has been made possible by a genuine partnership
15 Jan 2021 14:28
Engineer Who Adopted Bua School
Pratarp Singh.

The reconstruction of the main building of Coboi Sanatan Primary School in Bua is expected to be completed by this week.

This has been made possible by a genuine partnership between Pratarp Singh, aprivate consulting civil engineer, and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Engineers. 

The school, located some 113km from Labasa, suffered major damages from Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

For Mr Singh, things are very straight forward. 

He believes that in a time of national crisis, it is important for the private sector to reach out and assist the vulnerable communities and not rely on the government or a donor.

Mr Singh was in Vanua Levu just two days after TC Yasa struck. 

Part of his growing up was in Bua. 

Mr Singh strongly believes rapid assessment is important and an engineer should survey the damages very early and before the start of the recovery.

This is important in order to know what may have caused the damage and how it could be mitigated in the future, including working with the regulators to improve the building and construction standard. 

There was excessive damage to the school’s rooftop and only its concrete block walls remained.

The decision to help was very simple. 

The children of the area needed to return to the school and for Mr Singh, there is no better way to “give back” than through funding the reconstruction of the building.

“Why should you not help when you have the ability to do so,” said Mr Singh.

“As an engineer, I can do more than just offer advice. I have the means to offer assistance and I have done that.

“As Fijians, I feel that each of us, with the ability to provide that help, should step up and do so. That is the only way in making an impact.”

Mr Singh helped with the design of the roof and paid for all materials and cartage costs. So far he has spent almost $40,000.

He is a man who does not compromise on quality, regardless of the urgency and remoteness. 

Regardless of the timber produced by mills in Bua, he even had to source quality treated timber all the way from Labasa and Savusavu.

He said the work has only managed to progress this far because of the skill set of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces helping with the rebuilding. He is very thankful to the RFMF and the Minister for NDMO, Inia Seruiratu.

And this is not the first time he is doing this.

In 2016, after an excursion of the Cyclone Winston affected areas, Mr Singh and his wife financed the reconstruction of the major damages to the main building of Naiyala High School in Tailevu.

Mr Singh started to rebuild the school himself but was soon partnered by the New Zealand Government. 

The New Zealand Civil Defence Force provided the manpower with Mr Singh coming with the designs and funding. A very unique public private partnership with no contracts entered into, rather working on trust.

The school building was reopened by former New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys in April 2016.

Education, whether administered through the school system or workplace plays an important role in nation building for Mr Singh.

He believes that all Fijians should learn to “give back” without expecting anything in return.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj

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