Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula has said the project of turning the disused Rhino Garment Factory into a Covid-19 treatment facility proved to be futile as the government found it not to be viable and sustainable.
This was after members of the private health sector informed the ministry that they were no longer going to pursue the initiative due to a lack of funding.
This is despite the ministry having proceeded with the architectural design and costing of the project.
“The pandemic persisted over one year, and as a result, the ministry looked for an alternative site and requested the city to avail the Rhino Garment Factory, and not Ramatex, to convert it to a Covid-19 treatment facility. The city granted the ministry permission to use the Rhino Garment Factory,” said Shangula.
The Ramatex and Rhino garment factories are two different entities operating in one area, so the ministry decided to pursue Rhino, and not Ramatex.
“When the project was appraised by government, it was found to be not viable and not sustainable. It was directed that additional bed capacity be created within the existing hospitals in order to share the existing infrastructure, support services and human resources. At all material times, the national Covid-19 response team was informed of all these developments,” Shangula stated.
“The landlord gave permission for one year only and after one year, the facility (Ramatex) had to be demolished. This proposal was not supported by the ministry when taking into account the amount of investment for only one year”, he continued.
Shangula said in his address this week that at the beginning of the pandemic, members from the private health sector approached the ministry to establish a Covid-19 treatment centre at the Lady Pohamba Private Hospital.
He was responding to recent information, like a statement by Dr Ben Haufiku who was quoted in Namibian Sun as saying the country should acknowledge the mistake it made by not pushing for the refurbishment of the Rhino Garment Factory.
“These are hard and costly lessons for us as we are losing lives because of such things and a lack of beds and oxygen supply in many isolation units here in Windhoek - both in public and private hospitals,” he was quoted as saying.
The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)’s Manuel Ngaringombe yesterday also wondered why Ramatex is not being used as a treatment facility, especially now that healthcare units are filled to capacity.