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Why Ugandans are angry about the Lubowa hospital story

Design of Lubowa specialized hospital

COMMENT | Samson Tinka | A discussion about the controversial Lubowa specialized hospital on CBS FM’s ‘kiliza oba gana’ program moderated by Medi Nsereko, caught my ear recently.

The guests in the studio included an MP from Rakai district who was not shy to describe what was going on at Lubowa as a “looting spree”. His comments on public radio compelled me to conceptualize what he really meant.

A look back at what has gone on in the past two years,  made me understand his and many people’s anger.

When the agreement was signed giving the developer two years to complete, Ugandans including me looked forward to seeing this state of art facility meant not only to save lives but to offer specialized medical services at a moderate cost.

A site commissioned in 2019 with 24 months would have been opened to the public long ago. There has been excuses and reasons advanced as to why this project has taken long to be completed.

The two main one put forward by the Ministry of Finance were heavy rains, and the COVID-19 lockdown.

I find the two reasons not only shallow but flimsy and unconvincing. To begin with, construction sites were allowed at some point to remain open and those who were serious continued working. Many new commercial buildings in Kampala, were completed during the same period, and launched soon after.

The heavy rain excuse is not only displaced but un imaginary and an abuse to the tax payers. Uganda’s rainy seasons are known to be two- March to May and September to December only.  You need to just look at how many multibillion facilities started and got commissioned between 2020 and to-date.

Despite COVID, building at the NSSF Tower on Lumumba avenue progressed to 27 floors . As I wrote this article, most civil works are done. This facility was on ground floor by March 2019.

The other developments that have not been affected by the COVID lockdown and rains, are Mbarara central market, Uganda’s parliament new chambers, and the Entebbe airport expansion. Both the terminal and the runaway works continued during lockdown. In fact Entebbe has more rain compared to Lubowa.

I stay a short distance from Lubowa. As a resident of Seguku, I ply Entebbe road every day and if there were serious works on this site, I would tell because, when construction works were on going, we would be disturbed in the valley by turning trucks ferrying materials. For the last two or so years no visible signs of activities around this place.

You now wonder if the contract catered for all the key elements; legality, capacity, offer, consideration, liability, insurance and acceptance.

Contract implementation takes care of project implementation, monitoring, completion, evaluation, snagging and retention/liability effects period. During contract implementation and monitoring, funds are released as per work done through the signed and approved completion certificates. Absence of these certificates, no funds are released.

Signs that all was not well were seen on August 6, 2019 when members of parliament who went to Lubowa to check on the progress of the project, were denied access to the site and bounced back.

MPs were fulfilling the oversight role since they appropriated the funds for this facility. By bouncing MPs who are the principle funders, the site owners and managers were creating un sustainable relationship.

In fact from that moment it was a clear signal that all was not well. Why should facility guarantors or managers come back to same MPs for money?

Parliament should in light of all these developments immediately cease from releasing more funds for this project.

They should in fact consider handing over the site to UPDF engineering brigade for civil works. I bet in 8 months the structures will be at roofing stage.

Lubowa specialized hospital is a strategic project for this country now and forever. Security should have picked interest in its implementation. Drones should have been deployed to pick images and videos of ongoing works, ISO and CMI should have permanent deployment to file reports direct to DGs

Maybe if this facility was working, Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Speaker Jacob Oulanya Olanya would have been saved.

I challenge the Speaker of Parliament to take up this matter.

As you promised on the late Speaker’s burial, that you will live to his values, you should block release of any further coin to this project until the previous dimes have been dully and fully accounted for.

As it is Lubowa specialized hospital is in critical condition and has been referred to ICU and anything can happen including death.

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 Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd tindsam@yahoo

 

 

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