Putting On A Spurt To The Start Line

Only 8 weeks after my last visit I returned to Tanzania with my family to celebrate Christmas with the Priests of ALCP in Sabuko. I was excited about the progress which had been made towards our startline: the opening of the school on the 11th of January.

Entering the VTC Compound, the view to the workshop garage which had remained rather unchanged over the last 2 years was obstructed by the new hall and the wall enclosing the car mechanic workshop to an inner compound with its own gate and infrastructure. The reception building, the car wash place, the toilets and changing rooms, all were almost ready. A good dozen of workers was busily hammering, sawing, and shovelling to complete the construction. Yes, we got further than I feared, but not as far as I had hoped for. How could this construction site be used as a school and workshop in three weeks time, the start of the new school term?

Help from Italy had arrived in form of a weathered mechanic, Nico from Bozen, bringing a container load full of useful equipment for the workshop and busily engaging in the installation of all the goodies. The pressure hose car wash equipment, donated by Kaercher in Germany had also arrived and was stored in the container. His enthusiasm and the pride of Beatus and the builders wiped away the cloudy thoughts.

When I had to leave Tanzania a few days before the start of the school term, we had another project meeting, which revealed much graver obstacles than the completion of the workshop buildings.

The road access to the school compound is relying on government activities which seem to take longer and longer. In the meantime more and more buildings will be erected on the provisional approach, making access more and more difficult. Although ALCP has promised to pay for the diesel to operate the construction machines, things do not seem to proceed.

Electricity still has not arrived on the VTC compound. TANESCO claims a shortage of transformers for distribution. (A year ago it was the wooden poles for the line.) Tanzania’s government was shaken by a scandal over mismanagement and corruption in the state run power supply industry about handling the insufficient power supply in the country. This sheds a light on how things are handled nationwide. The school operations will have to start with just some 220 volt electricity, provided by a diesel generator we can borrow from a little hospital or dispensary also operated by the ALCP. This will only be enough to provide some light and perhaps smaller handy tools but not for the machines in the workshop.

Water. Though water has been found after drilling 80 meters, it is not good for drinking but may be used to water the trees (more than 1,000) and maybe flush the toilets, if pipes can be separated. The district water supply has a very unstable pressure with peaks that threaten to burst the soft pipes at the washbasins etc. So a water tank needs to be installed on a tower.

By telephone, I learned that the School has accepted only 20 students. They now inhabit one of the wings of the dormitory, while the teachers found an interim accommodation in the other wing. Though the ALCP wants to build the teachers’ accommodation outside the VTC compound, I am very happy that students and teachers share the same accommodation and build the same spirit towards improving the school.

Latest news is that the official opening ceremonies will take place on the 17th May. Hope that the prominent people and government officials who have been invited will spur some improvements on the infrastructure…. I shall be there.