Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), a non-governmental organisation, is seeking the completion of Nsit Atai General Hospital started 29 years ago, but abandoned.
The contract for the construction of the hospital, which is situated in Odot 1, Nsit Atai Local Government Area, was said to have been awarded in 1992.
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Unfortunately, the work stopped when the military authorities took over the reins of government in 1993.
According to Mr Kufre Etuk, the Community-based monitor for PPDC in Akwa Ibom State, the project was the only one that was stopped and remained uncompleted among three other hospitals started at the same time.
He lamented that successive administrations have failed to complete the project, and that the site has been turned into a cassava farm, while the community has no functional government health facility.
However, Chief Sunny Jackson, the Chief Executive Officer of Jackson Devos Limited, the company that handled the contract for the project, denied that it was abandoned, and blamed the community for stalling the project, adding that 80 percent of work had already been completed.
“The project was one of the very interesting projects of the Obong Akpan Isemin administration. The intention of the governor was to make the people of that area have access to health services at that level without having to come to the centre, Uyo.
“Right from when we started that project, it was one problem or the other but we wriggled ourselves out of it. There was the issue of compensation; mind you, it is the government that handles compensation.
“We had completed 80 percent of the job when indigenes of the community obtained an injunction and stalled the project. We had roofed the building and tarazolled the floor. It was not long after that project was stalled that the civilian administration was overthrown by the military.
“We didn’t abandon the project after Akpan Isemin was ousted; we discussed it with Governor Bako to see the need to continue with the project. We also talked to Adeusi, who didn’t even want to listen. Successive administrations during the military refused to continue with the project. Each of them was only interested in starting its own project,” he stated.
Chief Jackson said he was providing security with his personal funds to protect the project under three military administrations before he finally moved out of site.
But contrary to the contractor’s claim that the project had been roofed, investigations showed that the building had no single roof.
In a bid to intervene in the situation, the Project lead of PPDC, Mr Kachi Chukwu, set up a stakeholders’ meeting made up of members of the community, the ministries of health and economic planning as well as the Bureau of Public Procurement among others.
Chukwu, who called on the state government to complete the hospital project, also noted that the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Odot was dilapidated.
“The centre is under the threat of gully erosion. There is no maternity ward and its surrounding is nothing to write home about.
“This is the more reason all stakeholders should work with the state government towards completing the abandoned general hospital,” he said.
Speaking on the matter, Obong Inyang Ekpe, a former member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, said the community has written many memos to the Ministry of Health, the House of Assembly and political office holders from the local government area without success.
“None of the letters we wrote to the executive arm ever got attention. Last year, we wrote to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Health appealing to them to look for a way to cause the inclusion of the project in the budget. We were told that something would be done during the mark-up session,” he said.
He said an indigene of the community, who was wrongly advised, went to court and obtained an injunction that forced the work to be stopped, adding that since then efforts to get the government to review the project had been unsuccessful.
“ When his action was reported to us, we immediately approached our son, worked with him and got the injunction off within three months.
“Unfortunately, after that we were unable to get the contractor to continue the job. We have done our best to get the project back on course since then, but to no avail,” he stated.
Responding to the calls for revamping the Primary Health Centre in the area, Dr Martin Akpan, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said the state government is working on a sustainable development plan for PHCs in the state.
He said, “There is serious decay at the primary healthcare centres in the state, we are aware of it. The decay is a product of neglect over the years and lack of predictable funding. I know what is happening but obviously there is hope.