Carry own safety gear, Lubowa hospital tells MPs

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Carry own safety gear, Lubowa hospital tells MPs
Lubowa Hospital construction site

The latest quest by Members of Parliament to visit the Specialized Hospital in Lubowa has hit a dead end after the contractor told them he didn't have personal protective equipment for them and therefore requested the postponement of the visit scheduled for April, 22.

Construction activities at the Lubowa Hospital site reignited concerns over safety protocols as the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament prepares for an oversight tour.

In a letter dated April,11,  addressed to Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, the developer, FINASI-ISHU Construction SPV Limited, highlighted the necessity of complying with safety measures amidst the impending visit.

The company emphasized the resumption of full-scale construction on February 14 2024, with a paramount focus on adhering to health and safety standards.

"The project site is covered under the necessary construction all risks policy," the letter reiterated, underlining the importance of safeguarding all individuals present on-site.

Charles Byaruhanga, the Chief Operating Officer of FINASI-ISHU Construction SPV Limited, emphasized the urgency of preparing for the visit, requesting specific information from the Ministry of Health.

"Names of visiting persons, personal protective jacket sizes, and protective shoe sizes  were among the details sought to ensure adequate safety measures are in place for the anticipated thirty visitors.

Citing the short notification period and the sizable number of visitors, the developer proposed postponing the visit until after 22 April 2024.

This delay, as articulated in the letter, would allow for the adequate preparation of health and safety requirements and ensure the presence of the executive project management team currently away on project business.

Dr. Atwine, in a subsequent letter dated April 12 2024, addressed to the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, acknowledged the directive for an oversight visit to the Lubowa Hospital construction site.

Enclosed with the letter was the communication from the project developer outlining safety concerns and proposing a later date for the visit.

The Ministry of Health awaits the committee's response regarding the proposed extension date in light of the developer's apprehensions.

As Uganda's healthcare infrastructure continues to evolve, ensuring the safety of construction sites remains a critical aspect of development initiatives

In March 2019, Parliament approved the Ministry of Finance's request to issue promissory notes amounting to $379.71 million (approximately Shs 1.442 trillion) for the construction of Lubowa Hospital.

Spanning 32 hectares, the facility was designed to encompass four distinct zones: clinical, educational, recreational, and housing.

Initially, Pinetti pledged to complete the construction of Lubowa Hospital within two years and subsequently operate it for six years before returning it to government ownership.

However, five years later, the project finds itself embroiled in numerous scandals. Despite these setbacks, the government has allocated a total of Shs 348 billion to the project between 2021 and 2022, with an additional Shs 319 billion earmarked in the 2022/2023 financial year.

The envisioned hospital was to house a comprehensive range of medical facilities, including 54 Oncology beds, 27 infectious disease beds, 27 medical beds, 16 VIP beds, eight ICU beds, 60 outpatient beds, 54 surgery beds, 27 pediatrics beds, 27 OBGYN beds, 16 intensive care units, eight neo-natal ICU beds, and 11 operating theaters.

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