N$62m hospital project stands idle

An expansion project at the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital has been dragging on since 2015.

24 September 2019 | Health

Government and a contactor are in talks about unfinished upgrades at the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital, after a tender was awarded in 2015.

The N$62 million project is standing idle after Amupolo Building Construction allegedly abandoned the site without finishing the work.

Government took over the hospital from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) in 2015 and Amupolo was appointed to renovate the hospital's casualty section and outpatient department. A new maternity ward is also part of the project.

Acting Oshikoto health director, Dr Helena Nkandi-Shiimi, told Namibian Sun Amupolo was given two years to complete the work, but failed.

“After the government acquired the hospital, we wanted to improve the outpatient department and the maternity ward. As you know, baby deliveries are very high in the north and Onandjokwe is one of the oldest hospitals with a good reputation, and many want their babies delivered at Onandjokwe. We, therefore, wanted to have modern maternity facilities,” Nkandi-Shiimi said.

“The contractor was awarded a contract and was expected to finish the work by August last year. However they could not finish the work and asked for a 12-month extension. As we are speaking, the extension lapsed last month and still they could not complete the work.”

The casualty section renovations are said to have cost N$929 000, while those in the outpatient department came with a price tag of over N$1.3 million.

The bulk of the project cost (N$59 million) is linked to the new maternity ward.

Nkandi-Shiimi said government honoured its obligations by paying the construction money to the Onandjokwe hospital every month, in order to make sure there were no financial difficulties or debts after the work was completed, but the contractor failed to finish the work on time.

She said government and the contractor are currently in talks on the way forward.

Efforts to contact Amupolo Building Construction failed as the owner Erasmus Amupolo repeatedly ended phone calls made to him.

The business was also unreachable on its landline numbers and also did not respond to emails.

Sources at the hospital said the company is demanding payment to complete the work.

“How could we give them money if that is not part of the agreement? Government has availed the money, but we will not pay them until the work is completed. In fact, it will be good if government appoints a new contractor,” the source said.

Nkandi-Shiimi said the delays have impacted the hospital negatively.

“The health ministry transferred the hospital ownership from Elcin to the government, with the idea to improve its services and ageing infrastructure. Government could not spend money to renovate a facility that is not theirs. We started with the maternity ward, because it is one of the essential services offered at the hospital.

“Currently the ward is in a bad state and we wanted to give mothers and their babies a dignified environment,” Nkandi-Shiimi added.

ILENI NANDJATO

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