Members of Parliament on the Committee on Health have cited incompetence as the major cause of delays in completion of the Lubowa Specialized Hospital which they say reflects failure on the side of government.
Members of Parliament said the reasons given by the Health Minister, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng during the committee meeting on Tuesday, 19 April 2022 were not convincing on a matter that has become ‘a big political problem’.
“When members went there, we found works at foundation level. We cannot blame the Covid-19 lock down. The National Medical Stores building in Kajjansi started at the same time and it is now complete. Probably the issues of Lubowa have to do with incompetence,” the Committee Chairperson, Dr. Charles Ayume said.
Aceng told the committee that construction works were ongoing under the supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister.
“It is true that the project has stalled for a while for several reasons that we have worked out with the developer, the President, the office of the Attorney General and Office of the Prime Minister,” she said adding that, ‘the developer has sourced for money and a new contractor. A steering committee was put in place to follow up on the construction and a group of local engineers has been identified to supervise the work’.
The project engineer who is also the Assistant Commissioner, Civil and Sanitary Engineering at the Ministry of Health, George Otim however, said that only minimal works are going on and that no work was being done at the main hospital block.
“There is some ongoing work although minimally and at a slow pace by an internal team. The developer had challenges with finances and the contractor, Power China. As I speak, the developer does not have a contractor; they are in the process of procuring another contractor,” Otim said.
Otim said he was was irked by government’s laxity on supervision of the project. He said currently he is the only engineer supervising the project on top of his other duties of assistant commissioner.
“I don’t stay at the site all the time, there is no supervisor to monitor the work on day to day basis, I only go there when I have time” he said.
Padyere county MP, Hon. Isaac Otimgiw said the Health Ministry owed Ugandans an explanation on the project which he said has failed.
“The Ministry of Health needs to come out clearly and inform us whether they have failed on that project; they have failed Ugandans and Ugandans need detailed information. Telling us that it has been moved to the Prime Minister’s office is not enough,” said Otimgiw.
Hon. Sharon Laker Balmoyi (NRM, Gulu District) expressed the urgency of specialized health services in Uganda and tasked the Health Ministry to ensure there is visible progress by end of the year. She said many people lose lives because of specialized hospitals in Uganda and the high costs of seeking such services abroad.
“We need answers on what will be done on the project at least by the end of this year. Recently, our former speaker, Rt Hon. Jacob Oulanyah was flown abroad for specialized treatment. If we had this specialized treatment here, he would have been treated here,” Laker said.