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Shock as MPs, Minister are blocked from touring Lubowa Hospital project

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, Permanent Secretary Diana Atwine and Committees on Health and National Economy denied access to the construction site of the specialised hospital in Lubowa on Tuesday. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – Members of Parliament and senior Health ministry officials on Tuesday were left embarrassed after they were blocked from visiting the site where the proposed International Specialized Hospital Uganda is being built in Lubowa, Entebbe Municipality, Wakiso District.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and Permanent Secretary Diana Atwiine had accompanied MPs on Parliament’s National Economy Committee when they were blocked by heavily armed Local Defence Unit personnel and police officers.

Attempts by the officials to explain to the security personnel fell on deaf ears. This is despite the Health Ministry being the supervisor of the project. The gates at the site were blocked with a grader and a pickup truck.

Busongora County North MP William Nzoghu, who is a member of the House committee, said blocking MPs shows that the project is shrouded in corruption.

The chairperson of Parliament’s National Economy Committee, Ms Syda Bbumba, blamed the Ministry of Health expressed dismay that the contractor is blocking legislators from performing their oversight role.

But Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the visit was blocked after the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi wrote to the Speaker of Parliament, indicating that the MPs could not visit the project because it is a subject of a court case.

In a letter dated August 2, to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Muhakanizi said that the Government has no powers on the site which has already been handed over to the contractor. He added that the case of the Lubowa hospital is already before the court and any interference is subject to contempt of court.

Since the Government approved a loan Guarantee of $379 million (Shs1.4 trillion) to Finasi/ROKO for the construction of Specialized Hospital, it 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 cancel the move by FINASI international FZC chaired by Enrica Pinnet.

According to ROKO Director Mark Koehler, the SPV indicates that no other companies other than FINASI, ROKO or FINASI/ROKO and its affiliates can be subcontracted work in the hospital of more than 15 per cent, according to the contract.

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