500-Bed Hospital Rot Away In Bayelsa After Committing N25bn


Dilapidated strucure at the hospital

LAGOS OCTOBER 28TH (NEWSRANGERS)-For hundreds of Bayelsa State indigenes, the abandoned 500-bed Melford Okilo Hospital located at the popular Ingbi Road in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, is a nest of fraud where top government officials line their pockets.
Having committed a whopping sum of N25bn by the previous administration in the project, the hospital is wearing a relic of neglect, rejection and abandonment.
When our reporter visited the hospital last week, the massive structures situated in an expansive land at Ingbi are in obsolete state with vandalised windows and doors. A larger part of the wall has been taken over by mould while the medical facilities meant to furnish the hospital are rotting away.
A prominent indigene of Bayelsa State who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity and security implication of the matter told our reporter that the hospital project was started by former governor Timipre Silva to provide a standard medical facility for residents of the state.
He said, “The hospital was initially a cottage hospital until Silva came on board and upgraded it to a 500-bed hospital and renamed it after the former governor of old Rivers State, Chief Melford Okilo.
“On completion of the structures, medical equipments were procured but they were not installed until Silva left office. As much as N25bn were committed in that project by Silva’s administration but there is nothing much to show for it.”
“The contractor awarded the contract was collecting a sum of N300m every month from Silva’s adminstration towards the completion of the project but no meaningful thing was achieved. It came to a point when the contractor had issues with the financing bank over an unsettled bill of N5bn and the bank took the contractor to court”
“The matter lingered and EFCC had to come in. Everything concerning that project is shrouded in impropriety.”
He said the money committed in the project would have completed it but wondered how the hospital has remained at its present state.
A top civil servant in the state Ministry of Health who also pleaded anonymity said that all the documents concerning the projects have been shrouded in secret. He said no single document concerning the contract award, the total sum expended on the project and how payments were made could be traced in the Ministry of Health.
“I am an insider; I can tell you that everything concerning this hospital project is shrouded in secrecy and impropriety. It is that bad. As I speak with you, we do not have any document relating to the contract in the ministry,” he said.
Governor Seriake Dickson, on assumption of office, said the hospital will be remodeled to a 350-bed hospital. Our reporter gathered that the state government collaborated with a private firm to re-model the hospital.
The governor also requested for a team of specialist to access the facilities on ground, overhaul them and make recommendations for the procurement of new equipment.
Dickson said that his task was crucial in line with his ongoing medical tourism revolution, stressing that the remodeled 350-bed hospital would be completed and inaugurated in 2018.
Our reporter also gathered that the governor entered into a partnership with another firm for the evaluation and maintenance of existing health facilities in the state.
The governor, in a press statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Agbo, said the partnership with the private firm was for the equipping of six referral hospitals and other health centres in the state.
He said the partnership also included the repairs and maintenance of existing equipment, training personnel and medical intervention teams to perform surgeries and other medical assistance programs.
“When I took over as governor in 2012, there was not a single functional health centre in the local government areas. The one in Yenagoa was not operating at full capacity.
“Today, despite the country’s economic challenges, we have built six referral hospitals in six local government areas and are in the process of building two more.
“I have also built one of the most sophisticated diagnostic centres in the country today. I have rebuilt the Government House clinic into a 100-bed public specialist hospitals fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and it is open to the public,” the governor was quoted as saying in his statement.
The state government was also said to have entered into an agreement with a private medical outfit, the Oyesis Global Network Nigeria Ltd, for the management of Government House hospital complex. The essence of the agreement according to the governor was to actualise its vision of transforming the state into a major medical tourist destination.
Speaking shortly after signing the Memorandum of Understanding, Governor Dickson said his administration has already made relevant investment in the health sector to drive the vision.
He said the re-modeled Milford Okilo Memorial Hospital and other ongoing health projects in the states will be completed and put into use next year.
Residents of Bayelsa State are not happy over the state of the hospital. A resident of Ingbi where the hospital is located, Pius Oki, blamed the immediate past administration for not completing the project.
He said the administration of Timipri Silva had all it takes to complete the project but wondered why it was not completed.
“The administration of Silva started the hospital, huge sums of money were committed in the project but still the hospital was not completed. When Dickson came, instead of continuing from where his predecessor stopped, he said he was going to re-model it to a 350-bed hospital. Equipment bought for the hospital are lying fallow, some of them have broken down,” he stated.
Another resident, Johnson Gibson, blamed policy instability for the delay in the completion of the project.
He said, “Government is a continuous process and succeeding administration is expected to continue with the project started by a particular administration. If your predecessor initiated a good project and did not complete it, it is the responsibility of the succeeding administration to continue and complete such project.
“A situation where an administration comes on board and abandons projects initiated by a previous administration is not good for the growth of the state.”
He said the only functional facility in the hospital is the diagnostics centre constructed by the present governor. Patient visits the centre for medical examination and then go to other medical centres for treatment.
“This is not how things should be done. If you want to construct a hospital, you make sure facilities are in place. You don’t put one facility and leave others,” he stated.
Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Professor Ebititula Etebu, said the 500-bed hospital was shrouded in impropriety and blamed the previous administration for not showing serious commitment in completing the project.
Etebu said the present administration is doing its best to complete the hospital because “So much has been committed into the project.”
“We are in the process of starting something but because of the present economic crunch, we are looking at best options to continue with the project,” he stated.

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Posted by on Oct 28 2017. Filed under State. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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