Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume has challenged the Kuwaiti building contractor of the long-awaited $22 million Phalombe District Hospital to finalise the project within 18 months.
In his brief address during the ground-breaking ceremony presided over by President Peter Mutharika yesterday, Kumpalume said he will be making assessment visits every three months to ensure that the contractor is on track.
In his speech, the minister said he will ensure that works on the site are completed on time.
He said: “Your [the President’s] worry on the district hospital was also the same as that of the people here [in Phalombe], but now that is history as the works have now commenced.”
In an apparent attack on opposition political parties, Kumpalume said they should be disappointed that the Phalombe District Hospital project as well as other projects are taking off the ground.
The Phalombe District Hospital project has taken 16 years to take off since it was mooted during the administration of the United Democratic Front (UDF) under former president Bakili Muluzi.
Over the years, the hospital project, which Ministry of Health is on record as having said that it became feasible between 2012 and 2014 when financiers were identified, was, among others, allocated K50 million in the 2010/11 National Budget, K150 million in the 2011/12 budget and K100 million in the 2012/13 budget.
Ministry of Finance argued that the funds were allocated “for budgeting purposes” and that “no funds were drawn against the project”, an explanation financial commentators queried.
The project is being jointly financed by Malawi Government, Arab Bank for African Economic Development (Badea) and Saudi Fund for Development.
In his address monitored on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television, the President yesterday said construction of the hospital was proof that his DPP-led administration had the welfare of Malawians at heart, especially when it comes to access to quality healthcare services.
Mutharika, who dwelt more on politics, taunting his political opponents and ridiculing previous efforts by DPP’s predecessor administrations, apparently including that of his deceased brother Bingu, said his government is striving to provide for the nation in all sectors.
He said: “I know that you have waited for 20 years to have a hospital, and all the previous parties [including DPP’s eight years under Bingu] have failed to construct a hospital here. But during my campaign period, I promised to build a hospital here and this is what I am doing, fulfilling my campaign promises.”
The President also pledged that government will rehabilitate a dozen other hospitals in the country and build another cancer centre in Blantyre. n