The contractor behind the construction of the International Specialised Hospital of Uganda in Lubowa, Finasi/Roko Construction SPV Limited, has come out to accuse the Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Dr Diana Atwine of repeated trespass on the construction site, in disregard of the site visit schedule.
It follows an incident on Tuesday this week during which several government officials and Members of Parliament were blocked from inspecting the progress at the site in Lubowa.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, journalists and Members of Parliament of the committee on National Economy led by its Chairperson and former Minister of Finance, Syda Bbumba remained stranded outside the precincts of the site despite their repeated efforts to knock at the gate for anyone to give them access.
But while speaking to reporters outside the site, Minister Aceng said the incident could have resulted from a letter by the Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulabya barring the committee from visiting the site.
Muhakaniki noted in his August 2 letter that government handed over the site to Finasi/Roko Construction SPV Limited and as such, “government officials can not move on and off the site at will”.
Now on Wednesday, the contractor wrote to Dr Atwine reminding her of the Site Handover Certificate dated June 10 and other agreements signed between government and the company in relation to the hospital.
According to the company, the Ministry of Health designed a schedule for site meetings to which the company and the Lenders’ Technical Advisor agreed that the next meeting would be held on August 12, wondering what the purpose of the impromptu visit on Tuesday was.
“The SPV is concerned as this incident follows an earlier illegal attempt to gain access to the construction site at about 9:30pm on 5 August 2019. Again, we are informed that the trespassers who attempted to access the site on 5 August 2019 were acting on your (Dr Atwine) instructions,” reads a August 7 letter by Simone Palmieri, the Chief Operations Officer of Finasi Roko Construction SPV.
“Having handed over the site to SPV on 10 June 2019, you are required to notify us on any intended visit on site to enable us make the necessary arrangement. Therefore, we are confused and indeed concerned why unscheduled visitors to access the site when it was handed over to SPV sometime ago,” Palmieri adds.
The letter addressed to Dr Atwine is also copied to President Yoweri Museveni and the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga.
The contractor also claims they are required to sufficiently adhere to health and safety measures of all persons on the site including visitors. As such, they argue that allowing access to the unscheduled visitors to the site would put their (visitors) life at risk since the site has heavily moving machinery and equipment and open trenches which are all potentially harmful to human life.
“It was remarkably reckless to expose all those government officials and journalists to such danger. Safety on site is a paramount concern for the SPV,” adds the company.
“Your conduct in respect to unauthorized visits to the site has caused great inconvenience and embarrassment to the distinguished government officials who were expecting admission to the site and to the SPV which has been made to appear unreasonable, ill-prepared and acting in bad faith,” adds the company.
As such, the contractor says, they deserve the right to hold Dr Diana Atwine responsible in case of any negative repercussions, loss or damage the SPV may suffer as a result of her refusal to notify the company about the visit of the officials.