By Andy Chukwu
Akwa Ibom State Government has disclosed that it inherited a debt of N4 billion from the previous administration for the medical equipment procured for the Ibom Special Hospital.
Dr. Dominic Ukpong, the State Commissioner for Health, said that the total cost of the equipment was about N7.3 billion “found in the books” adding that the debt now stands at N1.3 billion after installment payment by the state government.
Ukpong described the indebtedness of the hospital as huge adding that the last payment made to reduce it was N600 million.
“Equipment for the hospital was about N7.3 billion that was what was in the books that we saw. When we came in, they were owing about N4 billion bill. We have been paying in installments.
” The last time we paid was about N600million. And, we were now left with about N1.3 billion to finish it. So, we have been paying, but when you look at what we have been talking about the hospital the debt is huge.
” What you see there is not a complete hospital. We have the first and the second floor in the main building done beautifully, and that is where you have the wards and outpatients, accident session. But the administrative block is the next block and there is nothing there.
“After the two levels, there is nothing in the third and the fourth floor, not completed, not plastered. The exit staircases, nothing. So essentially, the Specialist hospital was not completed.
“All the contractors that did the job were not paid and they abandoned the job. Some of them had done 80 percent and only received 50 percent of their money.”
He said services that were provided in the hospital by different contractors running into a huge amount was still outstanding.
He explained that the state government was looking for a firm “which has that funding and the capability to manage, run it and be able to recoup their money in hiring new management of the hospital.”
Ukpong disclosed that Clinotech, a Canadian firm which took over the management of the hospital had its contract terminated by the state government because it could not manage the finance of the hospital.
“The company was not able to manage it. The main problem they had was not just the management but funding. They actually lied to us that they had the funds and as soon as they got the contract, they felt back on us to provide funding.
“We gave the hospital as collateral to use as their funding and they could not do that. After one year, they could not even manage their finances in the hospital and all that. They terminated their contract by 10th of July, and before I did that, I had to look for a Nigerian who could manage the hospital,” he said.
He said the state government had brought in Prof Emmanuel Ekanem, a renowned Pediatrician, who revamped the Teaching Hospital, Uyo to run the hospital.
“I had to approach him, and he accepted to come and run the hospital. The place has come to life and we are happy with his work,” he said.