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Abandoned Utako District Hospital threat to health

For more than 10 years the Utako District Hospital complex has remained uncompleted. Successive  Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administrations have failed to complete it. As…

For more than 10 years the Utako District Hospital complex has remained uncompleted. Successive  Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administrations have failed to complete it. As a result Utako remains one of the major districts in the Federal Capital City without a hospital.
The 220-bed hospital complex is in a deplorable state. Several buildings in the complex are at various stages of completion; among them two, three-storey buildings. Several uncompleted structures within its walls have collapsed while the integrity of others still standing is uncertain.
Obviously, construction at the complex was suspended as the contractor has moved his equipment out of the construction site though some power generating sets have been left behind.
The construction and equipping of the hospital, awarded at the cost of over N4.3 billion to M/S PPC Medical Systems, has now turned into a refuse dump.
Residents living near the complex have expressed worry that the situation could present health hazard to the people in the area. The complex shares fence with another uncompleted project, the Utako Fire Station adjacent the Utako village. Like a typical Abuja slum, the densely populated Utako village is without proper sewage disposal system, thereby causing some members of the community to channel their drainages into the abandoned complex.
The residents have also built over 20 public bathrooms near the fence channelling the waste into the hospital complex. The dirty water, which terminates at the heaps of refuse in the buildings, is an eyesore. This waste is washed deeper into the complex during rainfall, submerging most of the ground floors and reaching the other end of the fence, along the Obafemi Awolowo road, not far from the Arab junction in Utako.
The compound is water logged and, probably in a bid to channel the wastes out of the complex, a small portion of the fence by Obafemi Awolowo Road has been broken, causing the waste to flow into the street and across the road into a manhole.
The stench of the waste has remained a source of concern to motorists, business owners and pedestrians within the area.
A taxi driver, Adewale Olagunju, said the odour from the complex, which he first described as a bleeding manhole, has been unattended to for over two weeks. He said it was worst during the rainy season.
Muyiwa Azeez, another taxi driver, said after a heavy downpour, the road was usually flooded with waste which forced motorists to use only a single lane.
“If any vehicle splashes the water on you, you would want to return home to shower and change your clothes because of the foul smell,” he said, adding that he plied the road with even greater caution during the rainy season.
Kingsley Ike works in a pharmacy near the complex and said he had lost many customers due to the stench from the building. He emphasised the danger of the stagnant sewage to the  people. He said the stench was so strong that even after closing the doors and windows of his pharmacy, the odour still found its way into the building.
“Some of our customers run away because of the odour. It is really affecting our business,” he said.
 He expressed concern about the health of residents living close to the hospital complex, and called on the government to quickly evacuate the waste and complete the hospital.
A woman who identified herself as Theresa and sells snacks near a shopping plaza in the area, said the odour had been affecting her health.
“The smell makes me feel headache, even my customers who will want to sit here to eat cannot stay because of the odour,” she said in pidgin.
“People might think I am pregnant because of the rate I spit,” she said. “The water has been logged in the building for more than two years though it normally washes into the street during the rainy season,” she also said.
Ifeanyi Iheanyichukwu, the security guard employed by the construction company, said the stagnant water “is dangerous to human health.”
He said the waste had become a breeding place for mosquitoes, especially during the rainy season.
The plights of residents within the area are many.
While the FCT Water Board and the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) have been trading blames on whose responsibility it is to curtail the environmental menace in the area, government has been silent about the project and its consequence on the residents as efforts to get the reaction of the FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat have been unsuccessful.
A senior officer at the secretariat said there was a directive that nobody should say anything about the hospital or any other hospital in the territory.
 “How I wish they can remove Utako District Hospital (from where it is) because there is no progress,” the source said.
“It is an abandoned project and I am sure this minister will do something about it. Utako is next on his agenda after the Zuba Cottage Hospital,” the source said, adding that no official comment might be available until a substantive secretary was appointed.
The security guard at the hospital complex, Ifeanyi, said officials from the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) do inspect the abandoned facility, adding that the buildings could be demolished as they are weak.
Corroborating Ifeanyi, Jane James, a resident described the abandoned project as a waste of public fund and expressed fear that with the rate of water logged in the building, government might have to demolish the structures.
“As you can see some of the structures have already collapsed, to tell you that others might not be far from collapsing,” she said.
The hospital was conceived because of government’s desire to construct hospitals in all the districts in the FCT and if completed, it would have been the only government hospital in the area.
While the residents still bear the brunt of the abandoned projects by paying exorbitant fees at private hospitals, their state of health could be affected with the degrading environmental menace that the hospital had degenerated to.
Aso Chronicle found out that about N2.222 billion of the N4.263 cost of the project had been paid while there are reports that work was suspended due to the outcome of a ministerial committee’s evaluation.

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