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Engineer declines to handover Lubowa hospital office

FILE PHOTO: Lubowa hospital

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Diana Atwiine has indicated that Francis Wakabi has declined to hand over the office of the Ministry of Health Owners Engineer for the Lubowa hospital.

Wakabi was appointed for a six months’ contract from December 1 2018, to take on a subcontracted role, which involved protecting the interests of the government and ensuring that the other contractors on the task adhere to the project specifications.

Although his contract expired on June 1, 2019, he has not handed over the office, claiming his term is just starting, as is, the works on the specialized hospital.

The project, a brainchild of Enrica Pinetti an Italian investor of Finasi Roko Construction SPV Limited, an entity which specializes in the construction of turnkey health care facilities, received a 1.4 trillion Shillings Loan Guarantee from parliament early this year.

Under the guarantee, the Ugandan government agreed to finance the firm to construct and run the specialized facility and payback within eight years from the commencement of operations. But the approval came amidst a heated debate and opposition from Parliament on the project which many branded a sham.

Atwiine told the National Economy Committee of Parliament on Thursday that Wakabi refused to hand over the office to the new team led by Engineer George Otim and five others. He reportedly said that his contract starts with the start of work at the planned health facility.

In a letter dated July 2, Atwiine advised that the Ministry of Health had no intention to renew Wakabi’s engagement as the owner’s engineer considering that the said contract had no option of renewal. She added that the decision was based on a Presidential directive and a subsequent resolution by Parliament to disengage the engineer.

Parliament initially recommended the termination of the contract on grounds that Wakabi was recruited at the interest of Finasi/ROKO and will not supervise the work ably. Wakabi, previously worked with the health infrastructure division in the Ministry of Health before he resigned to contest for the Jinja Municipality East parliamentary seat, in a by-election which he lost last year.

In the early stages of the discussion, the National Economy Committee had initially recommended that instead of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Works should take on the task and assign two internationally accredited Senior Engineers, a Civil Engineer and an Electro-Mechanical Engineer; and also assign an internationally accredited bio-medical engineer for the hospital project.

The committee also recommended that the three engineers should constitute a team of Owner’s Engineers that will represent the government to supervise the Project in the interim as Ministry of Health recruits its own engineers in the Infrastructure Department.

With a 264-bed specialized Healthcare capacity, Lubowa Hospital will be operated as a world-class internationally accredited facility to treat conditions for which Ugandans have been travelling abroad. The conditions include cancer treatment, heart diseases, organ transplant, fertility treatment, highly specialized surgeries, and bone marrow transplant, among others.

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