By Edwin Muhumuza
Health minister Jane Aceng has told Parliament that construction of the multi-million International Specialised Hospital at Lubowa hospital will commence after disagreements between the lender and developer are resolved totally.
The Lubowa project is being financed under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) loan that was guaranteed by the government of Uganda.
Once complete, the hospital will have 264 bed capacity, 80 bed oncology center, doctors and nurses schools and accommodation.
It will take two years to construct the hospital and another six years for the investor to recover their investment before handing it over to the government.
With the project costing $379.6m, Ugandans were irked in 2019 following revelations that squabbles were derailing it, and threatening the ideal to save the country $150m that is annually spent on foreign specialized treatment.
While appearing before the health committee of parliament, chaired by Michael Bukenya (Bukuya constituency), the minister said that the government had discharged all its duties and that the lender and developer are still in discussions.
‘The financial challenges can be handled, and from the reports that we have received, the discussions have been concluded and hopefully funds will be availed and construction will continue’
Government is expected only to start payments after construction of the hospital is completed and functional.
“The International Specialized Hospital at Lubowa is on course. The contractor, together with our engineer from the Ministry of Health, have been progressing well on the preliminary works and the preparation on ground and excavation has been done,” Dr Aceng said ,amid concerns that construction was 30 per cent behind schedule.
Challenges with the project started in 2019 when Roko Construction Company petitioned court seeking to stop Finasi/Roko Construction SPV Limited and Finasi International Fzc from interfering with their work and to be in possession of the site for the proposed hospital.
On February 12, 2019, Parliament asked its committee on National Economy to look into a request by State Minister of Finance David Bahati seeking to issue promissory notes worth $378 million (about Shs1.3 trillion) to Finasi Special Purpose Vehicle Limited to construct a specialized hospital at Lubowa, that was since agreed.
This was after the majority of the MPs, especially those from the ruling NRM party, voted to adopt the report, which said the project is economically viable and will save Ugandans billions of money .