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MPs’ Planned Visit To Lubowa Hospital Site Flops Again

Lubowa Hospital under construction/ URN photo

The planned visit to Lubowa hospital site by the  Public Accounts Committee on Friday flopped again following a request by Speaker Among to have the visit postponed until a new date is set by the proprietors of the facility.

The revelation was made by Muwanga Kivumbi, PAC Chairperson, while addressing journalists at Parliament, where he revealed that the first visiting date was canceled after the proprietors of Lubowa Hospital  demanded for the names, shoes sizes of all MPs on the Committee in order to avail them with personal protective gears while on site.

“We sent them names of the Committee members, we even sent them the sizes of the shoes of MPs on the Committee and these reflector jackets, you can even get a tailor to make them for you, so they aren’t exception and have some electronics that can detect a brick falling. We will not be deterred by these tactics of delays; I am yet again going to communicate another date,” said Muwanga, adding: “This is a multi-billion project that they’re  are finding it hard to provide safety protective gears because, Public Accounts Committee has 50MPs, the press is about 20 and the support staff is about 15. Is that too big to go even to Owino to buy those other reflectors, to buy plastic helmets and to buy gumboots?”

He noted that “When the clerk received the letter, the Speaker wrote on the letter asking the Committee to stay their visit to Lubowa hospital. I am not stubborn in the way I do things; I am a very patient man to the extent that I can even escort these people up to their home. We appeal to the powers that be, hands off, let the Committee do its work.”

In one of the letters paraded by Muwanga during the press briefing, Kenneth Akiiri, Head of Finance and Administration at the Ministry of Finance, wrote on behalf of the Permanent Secretary on 24th April 2024, asking the Committee to halt its planned visit siting the bloated delegation that was coming from Parliament, in order to allow the Lubowa team to provide the safety gears.

“Given the substantial size of the delegation, the developer has expressed the need for additional time to procure the necessary visitors during the site visit. Consequently, an alternative date for the visit will be communicated in due course. We kindly request that the MPs defer the visit until the new date is communicated. We assure you that we are diligently working to ensure that all necessary arrangements for site safety are put in place promptly ahead of the oversight visit,” read in part the letter.

Muwanga defended the Committee’s site visit to Lubowa arguing that it is in line with the audit query raised in the Auditor General’s report for Treasury Operations, where it was reported an overpayment of US$70m (Shs286Bn) had been made for no work done, which findings the Ministry of Health disputed, prompted the Committee to demand for a site visit to ascertain truths to the varying statements made.

“The owner’s engineer disputed the auditor generals’ report so we wanted to go and verify. We aren’t engineers but construction is like pregnancy, so you don’t need an expert to tell that really, some work is going on in construction and they aren’t building the hospital in the underground. Lubowa isn’t a classified site. Constructing a hospital isn’t a military facility it is for the people of Uganda. That hospital should have been up and running by 2022, they postponed to September 2024, my friend Elias Lukwago should never have gone to India, he should have been treated in India, now, he had to go all the way to India for treatment,” added Muwanga.

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