ONANDJOKWE - Following the widely circulated video depicting the deplorable conditions of the Onandjokwe hospital’s maternity ward, the executive director in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ben Nangombe says a new contractor will be appointed to complete the work of the maternity ward.
Construction of the maternity ward at Onanjokwe has experienced delays after the initial contractor deserted the site.
Meanwhile, Nangombe said the ministry is waiting for a resolution from the Central Procurement Board for determination of the contract after the initial contractor Amupolo Building Construction jumped ship.
At this stage, it is unknown whether government will sue the contractor and seek damages for breach of contract.
The project, which commenced in August 2016, was expected to have been handed over towards the end of 2018.
“The project is delayed and behind schedule due to the technical and financial capacity of the contractor,” said Nangombe.
Nangombe was speaking at a press conference on Saturday at Onandjokwe.
So far, only about N$21 million of the close to N$60 million of the project money has been handed over to the contractor but the money is said to be available to complete the work.
In addition to the delay, the ministry is also forced to re-do the foundation at block seven, as well as demolish the surface beds as they do not meet the set prescribed requirements.
The executive director said several meetings were held with the contractor, but he has not come on board.
Apart from the problems with the building, a sub-contractor has also dragged Amupolo to court for failing to honour its financial obligation to the sub-contractor.
Amidst this fiasco, expectant mothers are forced to lie on the floor – some with no mattresses in the current much-overcrowded maternity ward.
Although the ward only has a capacity of 70 beds at the moment, it caters to over 100 mothers daily.
The circulated video also shows a very dilapidated structure that is infested with cockroaches.
Equally, the ward is also invaded by stray cats, particularly observed in the kitchen area, where the patients’ food is dished.
That is despite the several renovations done over the years.
The senior medical officer at Onandjokwe, Dr Siraji Saad Rwehumbiza, said despite the renovations, the current maternity ward cannot keep up with the demand.
He said over a period of over 10 years, the deliveries have doubled to 7 000 in 2018, compared to 3 500 in 1998.
“There was no improvement made on the maternity ward, but the provision of services has doubled,” said Rwehumbiza.
Despite the challenges currently being experienced, including staff shortages, Rwehumbiza said the hospital has thrived to reduce the maternal mortality rates, recording one death in 7 000 deliveries.
The much-expected maternal ward is expected to have a bed capacity of up to 200 beds.
A paediatric ward is also currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2021.