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Ministry of Health blocks MPs from accessing Lubowa Hospital site

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The Ministry of Health has written to Parliament, postponing the scheduled tour of Members of Parliament from the Public Accounts Committee to the International Specialised Hospital at Lubowa in Wakiso District.

The MPs were supposed to inspect the site today. However, Kenneth Akiiri, the Under-Secretary writing on behalf of Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, stated that the developer failed to secure protective gear for MPs and a team of over 50 people who were supposed to visit the site.

PAC Chairperson Muwanga Kivumbi wondered how a multibillion-dollar project developer could fail to provide protective gear to less than 100 people.

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.

Earlier 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; which ones were supervised by owner’s 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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