Health woes in Kavango continue

The health ministry has decided to terminate the tenders awarded to contractors who have abandoned building projects in the two Kavango regions.

30 January 2020 | Health

While inhabitants of the two Kavango regions eagerly wait for the government to build more health facilities, health minister Kalumbi Shangula says the wait will continue because of the new procurement policy, under which it takes up to 18 months to appoint a contractor.

Shangula visited the two Kavango regions last September to gain insight into the health problems faced by communities there.

Kavango West and Kavango East both need more health facilities and construction projects have been abandoned while thousands of people need healthcare services.

Shangula said since his visit the ministry had decided to cancel the contracts awarded for the abandoned projects and start from scratch to find new contractors.

But he said terminating a contract is not a simple matter, as there are procedures that must be followed and the new procurement policy must also be taken into account.

Shangula said the works ministry, which oversees government capital projects, was dealing with the termination of the contracts.

“Once terminated, fresh bids will be advertised and a new contractor will be appointed. It is no longer in the hands of the health ministry but with the ministry of works,” Shangula explained.

He said the procurement board takes up to 18 months to appoint a successful bidder.

“It is a challenge and it is frustrating but there are reasons for that, such as to ensure that the work is of high quality and to deal with issues such as nepotism and corruption,” Shangula said.

During his September visit Shangula observed some of the incomplete government projects that have been lying idle for years, as well as the dilapidated health facilities in the two Kavango regions.

Among these were the Nkurenkuru Primary Healthcare Centre, which has been in limbo for more than four years, and the planned Nkurenkuru District Hospital, which is yet to get off the ground.

Shangula also visited the Nankudu District Hospital, which had a broken X-ray machine and a mortuary that regularly experiences breakdowns.

At the construction site of the long-awaited Nkurenkuru District Hospital, Shangula witnessed how a boundary fence which had cost the government close to N$6 million had been vandalised.

Shangula expressed concern about the vandalism but did not comment on the project's lack of progress.

In May last year, the ministry told Namibian Sun that the feasibility study for the construction of the Nkurenkuru District Hospital had been finalised.

“The ministry is compiling new standards and norms for hospitals and these are being used to re-modify the feasibility for the designated hospital to be responsive to the needs of a modern hospital.

“These standards have to do with patient flow, the outpatient department, casualty, the wards and other diagnostic services, so that all district hospitals have a similar standard. Therefore, once this is finalised, the full design will be commissioned,” the ministry said.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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