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Police block MPs from accessing the construction site of Lubowa Specialised Hospital

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The Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Joel Ssenyonyi, along with other opposition legislators, have been blocked from accessing the construction site of Lubowa Specialised Hospital. The MPs were blocked by police officers manning the construction site.

Last month, MPs on the Health Committee called for the halting of the construction of the Shs1.44 trillion Lubowa Specialised Hospital due to the ongoing public debt.

“We came this morning as part of our oversight role as the office of the Leader of Opposition because our duty is to keep the government in check. Billions of shillings have been pumped into this project, so when I came to seek out what was really going on, we couldn’t pump money into a project that we had no idea about,” Ssenyonyi said.

LoP claims that he wrote to the Speaker and the Minister of Health, Jane Ruth Aceng, about their decision to visit the construction site and requested that she take them as delegates to show them around the project. The minister said she couldn’t make it because she would be attending a cabinet meeting, and she wished us a successful journey.

“The police officers asked to get permission from the unidentified officer in charge and Enrica Pinetti, the investor constructing the hospital. That is not how it is meant to be because this is a public facility funded by taxpayers,” Ssenyonyi said.

In March 2019, parliament approved the request by the ministry of finance to issue promissory notes for the construction of Lubowa Hospital to the tune of $379.71 million (about Shs1.44 trillion).

The project was launched in 2019 on a two-year contract; the contractor is supposed to handover the project to the government within 10 years; however, they are not on schedule.

Earlier this year, the Health Committee rejected a supplementary request of Shs2.7 billion by the Ministry of Health to supervise the construction of the Lubowa International Specialised Hospital, tasking the ministry to present the status of the hospital.

The country’s public debt as of June 30, 2023, stood at Shs96 trillion. The domestic debt stock stands at Shs43.6 trillion, while the external debt is Shs52.4 trillion. The public debt has increased by 107% in the last five years.

Minister of Health, Jane Aceng, defended the recent request for additional Shs2.7 billion for supervising works at Lubowa Hospital, saying that the funds will facilitate the movement of the consortium of engineers from the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Health to supervise works after the new contractor takes over the site because the government didn’t allocate any funds for consultancy services.

“For those two years when there were no works, there was no supervision; now work has to commence, and there must be supervision. And recall, there was a lot of building material that was bought and is on the ground; we need to know if it is of good use. Whether the contractor can still use them is all that is required. Leaving the contractor to go on the ground alone would be disastrous to us,” Aceng said.

She said money has never been provided for supervision at Lubowa Hospital, even when they have completed the hostels; those ones were supervised by our engineers at the Ministry of Health. This money (Shs2.7 billion) is being provided because now there is a contractor on the ground, and that contractor is expected to start work. I haven’t been there myself to see if they have started, but the engineers have to report on the ground.

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