The contractor of the proposed International Specialized Hospital Uganda (ISHU) in Lubowa has explained why security yesterday blocked the minister of Health Ruth Aceng and her permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine from accessing the construction site.
Accompanied by a group of legislators from the committee on National Economy, Aceng and Atwiine failed to access the construction site for a locus in quo visit after they were told to seek for permission first from the contractor.
Finasi/Roko special purpose vehicle (SPV) has explained that security turned away the minister and MPs for their own safety. The MPs had sought permission from the Health ministry to visit the site. However, they found the gate to the site blocked with a grader and a pickup truck parked at the entrance of the facility.
Irene Ochwo, the public relations officer Finasi/Roko SPV, says the unfortunate incident was caused by the lack of appropriate notification to the SPV team regarding the intended visit.
The statement notes that it is critical procedure at all construction sites that health and safety measures must be sufficiently adhered to at all times for all persons, including visitors, as there are heavy moving equipment and machinery on site and open trenches among others that are potentially hazardous to human life if not well managed.
“This requires proper planning and safety measures to be taken prior to admission of members of the public into the site. This is an industry practice as well as standard operating procedures for construction of a site.” the statement reads.
The statement notes that SPV requires prior reasonable notice to prepare health and safety gears and apparel as well as conduct health and safety induction for the visitors.
“It is common knowledge that if any personal injury or other damage occurs on the site, responsibility for such injury or damage falls squarely with the contractor,” the statement reads.
Finasi international FZC also says it would have been helpful to know the purpose and length of the visit as well as the number of visitors so that the required apparatus are availed ahead of time. They have since asked ministry and MPs to notify them earlier if they are to go for a visit to the facility.
“It is hoped that the ministry of Health as the owner of the project can give adequate notice for the next visit so that adequate arrangements can be made,” reads the statement.
SPV says they are committed to completing the hospital within the specified period of time. In an August 2, 2019 letter to the deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah, the ministry of Finance permanent secretary, Keith Muhakanizi, said the government has no powers over the site since this was handed over to the contractor. He noted that the case of Lubowa hospital is already before the court and any interference is subject to contempt of court.
Early this year, parliament approved a loan guarantee of $379 million (about Shs 1.4 trillion) for Finasi/Roko for the construction of a specialized hospital.
However, the project has been marred with controversies. Recently, Roko, one of the project partners, said that it was being unfairly kicked out in favour of a new company, Power China Guizhou Engineering Co, Ltd. ROKO has since run to court seeking to reverse the decision by Finasi international FZC chaired by Enrica Pinnet.