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MOH fires national isolation centre contractor for incompetence

Renovation works at the National Isolation Centre. File photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has cancelled the contract for Synergy Enterprises Ltd over incompetence. The firm was contracted last year to renovate the National Isolation Centre in Entebbe.

The centre was set up in 2009 to handle medical emergencies that require isolation such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-SARS and Ebola and in 2015. The World Bank allocated 26.8 billion Shillings for its renovation an exercise which started in October 2019 initially expected to be completed in June 2020.

However, the project stalled overtime and its timelines were equally affected by the outbreak of coronavirus disease-COVID-19 in March which was followed by a total lockdown and closure of the site. As a result, the ministry extended the completion date first to August then to October 2020.

But now, the project manager Patrick Rubongoya says that the ministry is looking for a new contractor. He explains that Synergy Enterprises Ltd was incompetent and was not liquid enough to run the project without public funds.

“The company was relying on funds from the ministry to buy construction materials yet payment of the certificates takes time,” Rubongoya noted. The completion certificates according to Joseph Tusubira the site engineer would be worth 200 million Shillings and above.

Meanwhile, Rubongoya says the company also failed to purchase the approved construction materials such as sand, stones among others, which eventually would be red-flagged by the Auditor General and other technical experts at the health ministry.

By the time the contractor left the site two weeks ago, pending works included setting up a waste decontaminating unit, remodeling of the former Tuberculosis ward into a multipurpose unit, plastering, installing washroom facilities and finishing the ceiling and floor works. An extra gate has been created for ambulances to bring in new cases to a newly created block.

Muhammad Mubiru, the Principal Administrator at Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital says the isolation centre had a flawed flow of movement, where suspects were housed in the same ward and health workers would have to use the same door to enter and exit the wards. He thereby says once completed, Entebbe Hospital will transfer all its coronavirus patients and suspects to the isolation centre. The hospital currently has 156 patients and 30 suspects.

He however says Entebbe Hospital will take at least a month before it can resume its normal operations. In late March, the hospital which serves a population of about one million people in and around Entebbe and Kalangala district shut down all departments to focus on the management of COVID-19 cases.

Mubiru further explains that the hospital management is aware of the persistent calls from the public that the hospital should be reopened. The public has for the last six months decried the high fees charged at private facilities for surgery and other services not provided at Katabi and Kigungu health centre IIIs.

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