UTAKO DISTRICT HOSPITAL: WASTED BILLIONS!

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Utako District Hospital: Wasted billions!

In the midst of health chal­lenges lay a multi-billion Naira health facility ly­ing waste in the hearth of the Federal Capital Terri­tory (FCT). Administrations come and go, yet, vested in­terests lock down this facility, making it impossible for it to be put to use. And all the energy, sweat, resources and efforts lay wasted, no thanks to entrenched interests seek­ing to either propose that it should be sold off as lacking in purpose and intent or for some other primordial senti­ments.

When the nation’s capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja, the procedure ad­opted then was for every district to have at least one well-equipped public health facility, schools (primary and secondary), electricity sub-station and public recre­ational facility. The minimum concept in terms of health facility was a general hospital to be built and commissioned in all the districts. And so, we have one general hospital at Garki, Wuse, Kubwa, Life Camp, Karu/Nyanya as well as in Gwaqwalada, Kwali, Kuje and Abaji. The number of hospitals to be cited at the city center, were to match the number of districts, so as to reduce pressure and stress on such public facilities.

But, it is amazing that in Utako District, apart from schools, built in fulfillment of the original concept, some­thing went wrong with the health facility. The hospital built for this purpose is lying waste right behind the Uta­ko Model Market, adjacent to the Customs staff quar­ters, along the uncompleted dual-carriage way to Wuye Distirct.

When this abandoned health facility was built in the ‘90s, it was about the only public facility in the entire Utako Distirct; every other thing that people witnessed now were thick forest except the Utako Motor Park, devel­oped in partnership by Eke­sons Motors Ltd and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). Almost immedi­ately the Utako District Hos­pital was completed, it was left to deteriorate. Right now, all that is left of the facility are dilapidated infrastructure and rotting-away hospital equipment.

Although the facility is strategically located behind the Utako Model Market, the hospital was only, accord­ing to sources, put to skeletal use sometime around year 2000, but quickly abandoned and left to rot away inspite of cases of serious health chal­lenges reported in parts of the FCT and the urgent need for more public health facility in the territory and environs.

At the time of filing this report, the facility has re­mained a shame of the nation and immediately exposes the I-don’t-care-attitude of our public sector managers, who would rather turn around and appropriate same under the guise that it is economi­cally unviable, yet, very much viable to a private investor (often purchased through the back door by public officials on proxy).

The 220 bed facility has be­come a conspicuous monu­mental shame. It has equally, most unfortunately, become a comfortable den for crimi­nals, who launch deadly rob­bery attacks to passersby and residents of the area, espe­cially around midnight and early hours of the morning. Rapists have also found the place a good habitation, while prostitutes use part of it in the dead evenings.

The AUTHORITY inves­tigations have revealed that this hospital-turned criminal hideout was awarded at a cost of a whopping sum of N4.263 billion. More than N2 billion had been paid to the contrac­tors before it got abandoned over 17 years ago, at a time the Naira had better interna­tional parity.

When The AUTHORITY visited the location, it was discovered that the main contractor, PPC Ltd, had long evacuated its equip­ment from the site, leaving behind a lone power generat­ing plant. It was also gathered that the contract had been terminated.

The Acting Secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat, Mrs. Alice Odey-Achu told The AUTHORITY that the hospital remained in that state because of mul­tiple litigation and not out of negligence by public officials or any presumed under hand dealings or presumed future or proposed insider abuse.

She explained that when one part of the project (Panel K) collapsed, due to what was described as “soil tex­

ture deficit”, the contract was terminated. She stated it was revealed that the side col­lapsed because it was a dump site in the past and would not pass integrity test to hold the structures already put up in the place.

Odey-Achu further ex­plained that the hospital was initially a federal government project before it was taken over by the FCT Adminis­tration. And that the FCT Administration has since commenced talks with the contractor to return to site, but did not explain if the “soil texture deficit” had been cured or not due to its long abandonment.

According to her: “We are making efforts to ensure that the project is captured in the 2018 budget. The contract originally included the sup­ply of hospital equipment because of the experiences in the past where hospitals are built and supply of equip­ment run into bottleneck.”

The AUTHORITY gathered that the contractor was install­ing some of the contracted equipment before the contract ran into murky waters.

A major riddle was that it could not be ascertained when the place served as dump site because the hospital premises shares fence with the meat and vegetable section of the Utako market and analysts are won­dering why FCDA authorised the sale of such delicate items near an area considered to be high risk area medically. Also, FCT dump site had at incep­tion been located somewhere around the Tipper Garage around Mpape axis. There­fore, the argument by the Secretary of the Health Sec­retariat did not add up.

Presently, the building had been transformed, unfortu­nately to a mini brothel and hardened criminal hideout, with the Utako Police Divi­sion looking the other way except for occasional raid by its men, ostensibly in pur­suit of self interests. Nearby residents and artisans who pleaded not to be mentioned, confided in The AUTHOR­ITY that they watch uncen­sored “blue movies” always every night in the premises.

The AUTHORITY also spoke with a private security guard in one of the residen­tial houses around the site, and it was revealed that had become haven for pick pock­ets, drug addicts, rapists and even armed robbers.

Security hired to secure the place refused to speak with our reporters when they were accosted with the goings-on in the place. They rather be­came hostile and threatened to deal with our reporters if they take any picture of the premises or filed any report about the place.

The Police Public Rela­tions Officer (PPRO) for the FCT Police Command, DSP Manza Anjurin, feigned ignorance of the situation when he was accosted. “I do not know what you are refer­ring to. We do not have any such report. Kindly get back to us let us confirm the ques­tions you have just put to us,” he said.

-AUTHORITY

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