Contractor Disappears After Getting Millions … Leaving Patients in Limbo

Thousands of people in Okandjatu in Otjozondjupa Region do not have access to health services due to the poor workmanship of the contractor who allegedly vanished into thin air after he reportedly secured a N$9.9 million tender to construct a health centre at the sleepy settlement.

New Era was reliably informed that the Ministry of Health and Social Services felt there was a need to construct a new health centre to replace the current small clinic to accommodate people in Okandjatu that is surrounded by 50 villages and more than 100 kilometres from Okakarara.

The tender was aertised and awarded in 2012.

It is alleged that after winning the N$9.9 million tender the contractor reportedly started splurging the money on flashy cars and abandoned the health centre without completing the work.

And the actual building companies also allegedly deserted the on-site workers, who have not been paid for work done.

The current clinic has no consulting rooms and lacks a pharmacy.

Worst of all is that the single doctor assigned to the clinic only attends to patients once a month, compelling state patients to travel to Okakarara which is far away.

The clinic also does not have benches and a shade for patients awaiting treatment.

According to the initial plan, the planned health centre which was to have its own pharmacy and consulting rooms, among other facilities, was due for completion in February this year.

When New Era visited the site over the weekend it was obvious that the envisaged health centre, which was visibly abandoned and in a dire state with long grass springing up all over, has only been constructed half way.

The health director in Otjozondjupa Region, Maria Fililogia Karezembi, confirmed the sorry mess, adding there were “a lot of problems” due to the poor workmanship of the fugitive contractor.

“The contractor was disqualified due to poor workmanship. When we visited the site last year July, we found workers there just idle and they told us the contractor disappeared for three weeks. There were no building materials on site and they were not paid for months. I then called head office to alert them about the site that was just dumped like that. They had meetings and we were told they will appoint a new person to take over the work. The issue was then referred back to the Tender Board and we are still waiting for a solution,” she said.

Asked what action will be taken against the contractor, she said they held a national planning meeting this year in October and were informed the issue is still pending and all the decision-making is now in the hands of the Tender Board that allocated the tender.

“Everything is just upside down. I don’t know what he was trying to do. Now you find a half completed building. You cannot use the plan for 2006 to build a structure for 2013. It is really frustrating. The current clinic is unhygienic and you would think that if the health centre was completed we would not have such problems,” she said.

A nurse at the clinic who spoke on condition of anonymity said the delay in the construction of the health centre has placed a heavy burden on nursing staff in treating patients.

“If they upgrade the health centre it will really be easy for us, because the work is a lot. At least I will know I am working in a screening or delivery room. Here you have to do everything and the space is not enough. There are a lot of people,” she complained.

Meanwhile, a patient at the clinic who expressed concern said the delay in completing the health centre has negatively affected general patients as well.

“If it could be completed we will have a doctor available. And that means we don’t have to travel long distances to Okakarara for a doctor. We live far and sometimes we use donkey carts because we don’t have money for public transport,” she said.

Another patient, 64-year-old Katire Babilon from Okamaruru village also said the current situation puts a lot of constraints on the nurse on duty due to the high influx of patients.

“I come here at 10h00, but now its 14h34 and I am not yet treated. The hike is also now gone. It is one nurse on duty with so many patients. It is not good, they must finish the health centre so that more nurses can be recruited,” he bemoaned.

There are three nurses at the clinic treating thousands of patients. This situation has forced volunteers to assist the nurses in sorting pills and vaccinating children.

Source : New Era