The Sekondi district hospital is among the six district hospitals that the erstwhile NDC government under the leadership of ex-president John Dramani Mahama had promised to construct.
It is a turnkey arrangement with Messrs NMS Infrastructure and Barclays Bank Plc, London at an estimated cost of US$175m.
The six district hospitals are supposed to be built in Dodowa, Sekondi, Kumawu, Abetifi, Fomena and Garu Tempane.
On 28th of August 2013, the government through the then Minster for Health Hanny Sherry Ayitey broke the ground to signify the commencement of constructional work on the projects which was to be sited at Kansaworodo in the Essikado-Ketan constituency.
Hon. Hanny Sherry Ayittey had disclosed that the European Hospital, located in Takoradi was also going to be upgraded and re-equipped as part of the contract.
She also noted that the 120-bed capacity hospitals represented a new direction and a departure from the traditional building construction technologies.
The Minister had again disclosed that all medical equipment for the construction of the hospitals had been sourced from the United Kingdom, adding that the execution of the projects was underway and being supported by a UK-Ghana technical team.
It was part of Government’s efforts to eliminate health care disparity in the country to reduce infant and maternal mortality all geared towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals four to eight.
Checks conducted indicate that the construction of the six hospitals commenced in earnest, and at Dodowa in the Greater Accra with progress of work hitting completion stage. When completed, the Dodowa district hospital would be handed over to the community, with 60% progress of work done at the Fomena district hospital, while 45% has been recorded at Kumawu, and 30% at Abetifi.
In the case of the Sekondi hospital, several challenges have stalled the project since the groundbreaking ceremony.
Though part of the six district hospitals, the Sekondi project is yet to commence as at the time of filing this report.
The Sekondi –Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) claims it had to abandon a 50 acre land it had earlier acquired for the construction of the hospital at Kansawrodo, a suburb of Takoradi, after learning that the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC ) had its pipeline passing through the land in question, which made it unsuitable for the construction of the hospital project. This was discovered months after the ground-breaking ceremony.
The assembly claims it later settled on another land at Eshiam, at the outskirts of Kojokrom, for the execution of the project, but the Eshiam land was also abandoned and a new one located at Essipong was secured for same purpose.
In 2015, the Exim Bank UK got furious and was considering of abrogating the contract.
Apparently, the contract had detailed the funding and construction of the hospitals in the Western Region.
This was made known by the Western Regional Communications Officer for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Phamus Tumi Acquah.
I-watch African can confirm that the land secured eventually was also abandoned for a 42 arce land at Kansawrodo.
This land was much closer to the Methodist Senior High School.
The site was handed over to the contractor to conduct topographical survey.
The Takoradi European hospital for instance is at 25% for completion.
All conditions preceding the refurbishment had been fulfilled apart from tax exemption.
Public relations officer of the Sekondi –Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly John Laste confirmed with our Western Regional representative that the assembly has finally secured a 42 acre of land for the construction of the district hospital.
Even with that, he says the contractor had to stop working because there was litigation on ownership of the land
“The land has been handed over to the contractor, over 42 square acres of land and the contractor started moving to site till we had an issue with the ownership of the land”
He says the issue was taken to court and the court has ruled in favour of the family that gave the land to the assembly.
He assured that the assembly would give the land to the ministry of health for construction works to start at the site. He explained that the land litigation was one of the main reasons for the delay in the execution of the project.
“It an issue of we getting back to the contractor and informing him of the court ruling and they will prepare to go back to site to commence work”
Four years after ground breaking, acquiring land has been the major hindrance for the project, so now that the dust has settled when is work likely to begin? This was the question posed by our reporter.
Mr John Laste in response however said “for now i am unable to give specific date as to when the contractor will go back to site. Once that the health directorate is aware of the court decision, it is their duty to officially communicate with the contractor to get back to site” he pointed out.
Mr John Laste revealed that the assembly is just a supervising agency. According to him, because they didn’t award the contract to the contractor, their only role was to get the ministry of health a land, and they would then direct contractor to go to site. But the Regional health director Emmanuel Tinkorang has refused to comment on the progress of work done at the site chosen for the project.
Meanwhile residents in the Sekondi Takoradi metropolis say, authorities must do something else the metropolitan area could miss the opportunity presented by the donors.
Again, they are worried that it could affect quality health service delivery in the city due to the increasing number of patients at Out Patients Departments (OPD) of the few hospitals operating in Sekondi Takoradi.
(This report was filed by our Western Region correspondent Ina –Thalia Quansah | iWatch Africa) Edited by Gideon Sarpong.