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.
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