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Monday, June 28, 2021

World Bank funded shoddy renovations of COVID-19 isolation Centre rejected

By Esther Nakkazi

Renovation works at Entebbe National Isolation Centre project funded by the World Bank which would enable a regional referral hospital to have additional space for COVID-19 patients have failed to meet required standards and this could fuel spread of the pandemic.

The isolation centre funded by the World Bank to the tune of UGX 3 billion is meant to provide more space for Entebbe regional referral hospital which is grappling with limited space due to the high number of COVID-19 patients but the contractor BMK Uganda Ltd presented shoddy work according to the Ministry of Health.

During the pre-hand over inspection of the isolation centre conducted by a team of engineers and architects from the health ministry led by Eng. George Otim, the commissioner of health infrastructure, Dennis Kiberu, an Architect and Engineer Paul Kalanzi, a Mechanical Engineer mechanical and electrical engineering faults as well as carpentry and joinery defects were identified and the contractor was directed by the contractor to fix them within ten days.

The contractor was tasked to replace lights, taps, toilet pans and hand washing basins that do not meet the specifications in the bill of quantities. It turned out the approved samples before installation were not what was installed and although the work was slated to be completed within two months the contractor failed to meet his obligations citing lock down and mobility constraints. 

It was noted that the worktops in the kitchen and pantries, particularly in the remodeled former TB ward (Block D) should be reworked to provide space for cookers. He directed that the long neck taps be replaced because they are too high from the level of the handwashing basins and will result in spills. "People will wet their clothes while medics will wet their scrubs while washing hands," Kiberu noted.

MOH contracted BMK Uganda Ltd to refurbish the isolation and complete the works by April this year. However, due to delays in approving plans for remodeling the Tuberculosis ward, the completion date was pushed to May. The contractor was expected to hand over the site on June 11. 

Ministry of Health officials lamented that when they ask the contractor to fix the shoddy work they complain of being harassed. By June 11, the contractor had not yet completed plumbing and electrical works in some of the buildings and former TB ward. 

The ministry has revised the company's terms and wants shoddy work fixed and handed over within ten days as the isolation centre should be in use by next month. MOH has already started equipping the isolation centre with beds in the wards and fixed freezers in the mortuary.

Kiberu also noted that the worktops in the kitchen and pantries, particularly in the remodeled former TB ward (Block D) should be reworked to provide space for cookers. He directed that the long neck taps be replaced because they are too high from the level of the handwashing basins and will result in spills. "People will wet their clothes while medics will wet their scrubs while washing hands," Kiberu noted.

MOH contracted BMK Uganda Ltd to refurbish the isolation and complete the works by April this year. However, due to delays in approving plans for remodeling the Tuberculosis ward, the completion date was pushed to May. The contractor was expected to hand over the site on June 11.

However, by then, the contractor had not yet completed plumbing and electrical works in some of the buildings and former TB ward. As a result, the ministry gave the company a week to complete the works and hand over the site.

From September, renovation works stalled after the ministry cancelled the contract of Synergy Enterprises Ltd for alleged incompetence and lack of capacity to finance works. The work resumed in January 2021 after the World Bank and the Solicitor General approved the award of the contract to BMK Uganda Ltd for completion of the project.

The isolation centre was constructed in 2009 for infectious disease control such as SARS and Ebola. The World Bank and MOH decided to renovate the centre to create more space for intensive care, separate rooms for suspects and patients, laboratories and separate entry and exit points for the public and health workers.