A K5 MILLION earmarked for the Imbonggu district hospital project disappeared and the people want answers. In 2018, the O’Neill government gave K5 million for the extension and redevelopment of the Imbonggu health centre to a district hospital under its rural district hospital development programme. For purposes of accountability, transparency and better management of public funds, the money was to be parked at the Health Department. The money should be expanded through the established process of the Health Department’s project management team, with, consultation with the Southern Highlands health authority and the district. The projected cost around K20 million and the first of K5 million was for planning, design, concept design and preconstruction improvement. Upon successful completion of the first phase, the next tranche of fund would be released on a phase-by-phase arrangement until the project is complete. Imbonggu MP Pila Niningi had the K5 million transferred to the district treasury. While the other districts who got the same funding around the same time are well into advanced stages in developing their hospitals, Imbonggu’s is yet to get off the ground. Why is nothing done about Imbonggu district hospital? The reason is simple. Imbonggu hasn’t expanded its K5 million on the items purposely intended such as concept design, initial improvement, preconstruction and preparatory work. No further funding would come unless the district demonstrates to the funding agency the capacity of managing the project and provide them the necessary reports. Until recently, what surfaced revealed the whereabouts of the K5 million. According to records at Imbonggu development authority, K1 million was drawn some time ago from the K5 million to pay a certain construction company to do the district hospital design and villagers to relocate houses that were on the project site. What I picked up is that the design produced got knocked back by the Health Department for not meeting the standards. Remember, hospital construction go through stringent quality control and the Health Department ensures that design was up to standards. Mistakes on the design were corrected and resubmitted the second time and even that too got knocked back. Even the third attempt failed. This essentially spells a very serious problem.
The progress of the Imbonggu district hospital is stalled. Worse still, the multi-million kina project is now at stake while it is losing the possibility of future funding. A once in a lifetime opportunity is lost because of pure greed. Apparently, the construction company does not have the capacity in special building construction such as designing and building hospitals. Now the K5 million question is, will Niningi continue to use the same company that got the first and the most fundamental steps wrong?