Malawi government has given Nkhata Bay District Hospital contractor September 30 2015 deadline to finish all works as President Peter Mutharika is scheduled to open the facility by mid October.
Meanwhile, the government is looking for K1.3 billion to pay the contractor. It has also to find about K11 million for operation costs of the hospital and another K400 million to improve the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay M5 Road that connects the hospital to Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay.
Newly appointed Health Minister Peter Kumpalume gave the ultimatum on Tuesday when he received keys from the contractor, Plem Construction and Cit
Building Joint Venture for some facilities that were completed and are ready for use. These include administration block, hostels, teaching block, primary healthcare department and 69 staff houses.
“I am aware you have some work to do but I cannot wait to have the President mid next month here to open this most beautiful hospital. This facility is a top-notch. By September 29 the hospital will have to be completed,” said Kumpalume.
Asked to explain how the facility would operate when it was not included in the current financial year and that it requires a lot of human resource, Kumpalume said the hospital will start operating as district hospital using the same human resource at the old district hospital. He said government was looking for additional funds, about K11 million, which the District Health Officer asked for operations since it was not put in the current budget.
Plem Construction and Citi Building Joint Venture Site-in- Charge Mohandas Pillai said in an interview that government was still owing the contractor K1.3 billion. But despite the outstanding bill, Pillai said work would finish as per the September 30 deadline.
“We will complete the work by 30th September. Some of the facilities are already completed and you saw this morning I handed some keys for some facilities. Yes, there is K1.3 billion outstanding but work will be completed. The money is in this year’s budget,” said Pillai.
The ministry’s Director of Planning and Policy Development Dalitso Kabambe said the Ministries of Health and Finance were in discussions to get extra K400 million for the improvement of the road network leading to the hospital which Nkhata Bay District Council Health Committee Chairperson Bester Munthali raised as a matter of concern.
Kabambe disclosed that government’s contribution to the project is K2 billion. The total cost of the project, he said, was US$18.7 million with 350 beds. Originally the design was for 250 beds at US$10.7 million through a loan from Open Fund for International Development.
The hospital was supposed to be opened in March this year but extended to September. Staff members were expected to start transferring to the new hospital on Tuesday.
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