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Contractor Abandoned Shs22bn Surgical Complex Project Causing Delays- Mbale Hospital Boss

MPs on the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Wednesday quizzed officials from Mbale Regional Referral hospital over delays to complete the construction of the Shs22bn surgical complex (pictured) at the hospital that has stalled for 2 years.

Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo Ituuzo, the Director Mbale Regional Referral Hospital led the officials before PAC.

Tugaineyo told Parliament that the project hit a snag last financial year when the contractor abandoned the site, prompting the Ministry of Health to bring on a new contractor.

In his report to Parliament, Auditor General John Muwanga questioned the failure by the hospital management to utilize the funds highlighting that out of Shs13.28bn released, only Shs10.76bn was spent and of this amount, Shs2bn was meant for the construction of the surgical ward while Shs526M was meant for salaries of new staff.

It should be recalled that the construction of the Shs22bn complex started in 2016 and was supposed to run for four years ending this September after the Health Ministry contracted Global Network Construction Company Limited to undertake the construction works.   

However, the hospital management blamed the delays in the completion construction works on government reducing the release of funds Shs5bn to Shs2bn which affected the work, but told Parliament a new contractor is on-site to complete works. 

The Mbale Hospital bosses said the new contract is worth Shs6bn and will run for 21months with the scope of work requiring the contractor to construct slabs, wall and roofing given the funding gap which means the project will be undertaken in a phased manner.

The land hosting the proposed surgical complex was initially hosting the casualty ward and the Out Patient Department that were brought down. This reduced the available space for patients which has since caused congestion in the hospital given the high number of patients the hospital serves.  The complex will host 300 beds and nine theaters once completed.

In a related development, the hospital management was also questioned for hiding Shs586.9bn received from UNICEF, Malaria Control and Rights-e but the money didn’t hit the consolidated fund as required by law, with Auditor General admitting the action made it impossible to confirm compliance with the objectives of the donors.

Parliament also learned that the hospital was grappling with stockouts of tracer medicines with stockout days ranging from one month to six months. The management blamed the stockout on the shortage of funding, having submitted a budget of Shs3.350Bn but only Shs1.486Bn was released.

During the audit process, auditors discovered that although the hospital has three x-ray machines, only one was functional and the rest had since broken down and not been in use for 4 years and efforts to repair the machines had been futile, prompting the medical team to send patients to nearby hospitals for the services.

Mbale Regional referral hospital also doesn’t have a CT Scan, with the hospital sending patients to private hospitals. The audit report further revealed rot in the mortuary highlighting the absence of trollies, beds on which dead bodies are placed, no fridge for storage of dead bodies as well as the absence of formalin used for the treatment of dead bodies.

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