By Andrew Irumba
Lubowa: There is a bitter standoff between Roko Construction Company, which was contracted to construct an ultramodern hospital in Lubowa, off Entebbe Road and FINASI, the company that was contracted to supply construction materials for the project.
Our Spies have revealed that chaos erupted on Thursday at the construction site when the military tried to evict Roko Construction Company Ltd from the site. SpyUganda has learnt that the chaos started when Enrica Pinnetti, the boss of FINASI, attempted to evict Mark Koehler, the Roko Construction boss, from the site and replace them with China Power, a construction firm based in China. The attempted eviction sparked off a bitter standoff between the two companies, which prompted the army to intervene and take over the matter. It should be noted that Roko is the government approved contractor for the project while FINASI is the equipment supplier for the project worth USD87 million. Reports indicate that Trade Development Bank released the money to Stanbic Bank but only USD50 million reached the account and the rest has since gone missing. The unexplained disappearance of the money is partly what sparked off the standoff between the proprietors of both companies. It is not clear when the standoff ended but when contacted, Roko Construction boss, Koehler confirmed the developments, describing the situation as absurd.
About The Hospital
The saga started early this year when Parliament approved a guarantee of USD 379 million (1.4 trillion Shillings) for the construction of an International Specialized Hospital in Lubowa, Wakiso district. The facility with a 264-bed specialized Healthcare capacity will be operated as a world-class internationally accredited hospital to treat conditions for which Ugandans have been travelling abroad. The conditions include cancer treatment, heart diseases, organ transplant, fertility treatment, highly specialized surgeries, and bone marrow transplant, among others. The government sought authorization of parliament for the project following a proposal by the Italian investors Finasi Roko Construction SPV Limited, a major member of the FINASI-RoKo consortium, an entity which specializes in the construction of turnkey health care facilities. The investor wanted to have the project financed through a promissory note from the Ugandan government as a public-private partnership. Under the arrangement, the government will finance the firm to construct and run the specialized facility and payback within eight years from the commencement of operations.
Legislators Query Project
But the request was queried by Members of Parliament who questioned why the government had to invite an investor, who has to be guaranteed with huge sums of money. They also objected to the high-interest rate of Shs477 billion and the purpose of financing the facility, considering the poorly financed hospitals across the country. However, the request was endorsed by the National Economy Committee of Parliament which had been given a task to review the application and interact with key players in the health and finance sectors to establish whether the partnership has value for money.
Members also rejected a minority report which had been presented by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, to block the funding. In support of the Minority report, Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi said that the cost of constructing the hospital is exaggerated. Bunyole West MP James Waluswaka said the proposal is risky. He faulted government for picking an investor without undertaking a bidding process to guarantee that anyone who gets the promissory note is selected on merit. Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal said that the specialized women hospital was built at only about USD 25 million (92 billion Shillings) far less than the USD 379 million (1.4 trillion Shillings) that is needed by the investors to construct the International Specialized Hospital. She said there is a possibility that all parts of the proposal constitute illegality. Despite the doubts, Parliament sanctioned the proposal after the speaker Rebecca Kadaga observed that the project is of immense benefit to Ugandans.
According to the breakdown of the money, the purchase, delivery and installation of medical equipment, hospital furniture, testing, commissioning and training will cost 370 billion Shillings, civil works excluding mobilization costs will cost 320 billion Shillings, medicines and consumables for a year are budgeted at 62 billion Shillings and preliminary project development is 50 billion Shillings. Government is expected to take over the hospital after ten years according to the agreement. Overseeing the construction of the hospital has since been taken over the army which is trying to mitigate the differences between Roko and FINASI bosses.