BMK-Uganda Ltd has until the end of this week to hand over the National Isolation Centre in Manyago, Entebbe municipality.
The work which started in 2019 had initially stalled because of a COVID-19 induced lockdown, which was announced in March 2020. But in the aftermath, the Ministry of Health cancelled the contract awarded to Synergy Enterprises Ltd for alleged incompetence and lack of capacity to finance the works and later awarded the contract to BMK Uganda Ltd.
The new contractor was then tasked to complete the works by April 2021. However, due to delays in approving plans for remodelling the Tuberculosis ward, the completion date was pushed to May, and later to June 11, 2021. However, the contractor had not yet completed plumbing and electrical works in some of the buildings and the former TB ward by the time.
Eng. George Otim, the Commissioner in charge of Health Infrastructure says that Although the overall progress of the World Bank-funded project now stands at 99 per cent, the contractor has to fix some mechanical works within the medical building and block C that houses the mortuary, pathologist’s office, janitor’s office and the laundry.
Patrick Rubongoya, the project manager, initially requested two weeks to fix faulty taps, replace toilet pans and handwashing basins that do not meet the specifications in the bill of quantities. But Eng. Otim said the faults identified can be rectified within a few days, adding that some of the faulty items, such as substandard toilet pans, broken tiles, and poor finishing on walls, were identified three months ago.
During a pre-handover assessment in June, the ministry tasked the contractor to fix mechanical and electrical faults that included replacing fluorescent tubes with LED lights to save energy and maintenance costs, installing the appropriate taps and handwashing basins in the laboratory, wards and removing broken tiles. The contractor was then given 10-days within which to fix the faults.
But after an on-spot inspection in early July by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr Diana Atwine and other ministry officials, the contractor was given a month to fix the errors and make modifications in the ICU block so that patients are not crowded in the unit.
According to Rubongoya, the ministry is under pressure to open the centre so that Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital resumes normal operations. The hospital has been closed to the general public since March last year in order to focus on managing COVID-19 cases.
Dr Allan Muruta, the Commissioner for Epidemiology and Surveillance at the Ministry of Health says the isolation centre is strategically placed to serve the community and cases from Entebbe Airport. The centre will have the capacity to accommodate 100 patients in the suspects and confirmed wards, five patients in the ICU and another six beds in the High Dependency Unit.
Juma Bright, a representative from BMK Uganda Ltd says his team hopes to complete the work and hand over the project by Monday, next week.
Now, within this week, the ministry’s biomedical engineering team led by Agnes Auma, a Principal Engineer, will fix five ICU beds at the isolation centre. The team will also have to replace panels for the freezers in the mortuary because they are either missing or rusted.
Dr. Moses Muwanga, the director of Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital also asked the ministry to set up an incinerator, a theatre, and an oxygen plant at the isolation centre to limit movement of patients and waste outside of the facility.