Africa’s largest manufacturer of prefabricated, modular buildings, Kwikspace, was a pivotal cog in the wheel that saw the Limpopo Department of Education (LDE) receive 6 000 new prefabricated modular classrooms over three years. The contractual period began in January 2019 and runs to January 2022. Although the period under review is not yet complete, the bulk of the classrooms have been delivered, with the remainder scheduled for delivery before the contractual period lapses on 02 January.
The LDE had determined that approximately 6 000 new primary and high school classrooms were required to get the educational improvement rollout in the province to the standard it had set. To expedite delivery across the 125 754 km² province, it was divided into four provincial regions with each region allocated to a different solutions provider. Kwikspace was allotted the Sekhukhune region, which has 630 schools servicing a population of almost 1.1 million across 13 528 km². Of these 630 schools, 102 of them were earmarked to receive approximately 2 000 new classrooms.
“We were not the only company vying for a portion of this contract, and we attribute our success to numerous factors,” says COO, Roberto Campos. “Among these are sufficient capacity and volume to meet the required deliverables, and a pricing structure that fell within the LDE’s budget.”
Classroom rollout staggered
The first tranche of the order was for 303 classroom units, to be concluded by the LDE’s financial year-end on 31 March 2019. Kwikspace met this target by producing, erecting and levelling 101 classrooms each month for the first quarter in 2019. The second tranche of the order coincided with the Department’s 2020 enrolment plans late in 2019, with rollout and delivery beginning in January 2020, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa.
“The arrival of the pandemic in our country along with social restrictions prompted the Department to procure a number of additional classrooms, but with different specifications,” Roberto Campos explains. ”The extra classrooms were needed to facilitate adherence to social distancing precautions at a number of schools.”
Most classrooms supplied were standard sizes of 56m2 and included typical fittings like blackboards, plug points and lighting, for example. Each is designed to accommodate 40 learners except the Covid-designed units which, although the same size, accommodate a maximum of 25 learners. All Kwikspace classrooms included air conditioning and 1.5 metres wide veranda’s which run the length of each classroom. Eight classrooms were specifically designed and manufactured to cater to the needs of disabled learners at special needs schools, and included non-standard equipment like ramps, for example.
Local contractors’ benefit
Electrical connections, water reticulation and paving are required for projects of this nature. To this end, Kwikspace partners with local contractors to execute these aspects, and provide training and any upskilling that enables them to carry out these projects to Kwikspace’s standards. “This way we deliver the entire package to the LDE, providing a safe learning environment for the children, while upskilling and employing locals from the surrounding communities,” Roberto points out.
Although classrooms form the bulk of the order for this particular contract, it includes several other applications like administration blocks, storage facilities and ablutions. This resulted in sufficient plumbing and electrical ancillary services that were outsourced to local contractors.
Unit relocation further benefits contractors
Roberto explains that part of the contract involved relocating existing classrooms from one school to another, and that these classroom units are often not of the manufacturers’ brand. “In these instances,” he discloses, “we use upskilled locals to refurbish these units prior to relocation. This, and using local SMEs, is another way we drive employment in the surrounding communities.”
Roberto emphasises that the LDE should be commended for its handling of the project. “The Department’s representatives conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism in all aspects, which has been beneficial to the average Limpopo citizen,” he points out. “Their competence allowed us to deliver our rapid services even more rapidly and they, in turn, delivered these education services to their citizens in very KWIK turnaround times. It also had the advantage of temporarily increasing the combined income of the local communities with the temporary employment afforded to them by Kwikspace.”
“We are enjoying the symbiotic relationship we have with the Limpopo Department of Education,” he concludes. “As a result of this relationship we, and the local sub-contractors, go the extra mile for the Department. It really is a win-win situation.”