Hon. Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare, Member of Parliament for Daffiama/Bussie/Issa Constituency in the Upper West Region, has taken officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), to task over the inordinate delay in the completion of the Wa Regional Hospital, which was to have been completed in March, this year.
According to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP, the undue delay in completing the project is worsening the plight of the people of the Upper West Region in accessing good healthcare in the country.
Hon. Sandaare made these comments after he posed a question to the Minister of Health on the floor of parliament yesterday.
“Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Health when work on the new Upper West Regional Hospital will be completed,” he said.
In response, the Minister of Health, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority is withholding some medical equipment meant for the hospital at the port over tax.
He said, “Even though tax exemption has been granted by Parliament, Customs is still asking the contractor to pay the taxes, but the contractor has indicated that he has not made provision for that and that over 150 containers with medical equipment and other building materials for the project have been pending.”
“As a result of this policy, projects are encountering huge delays,” and therefore we made passionate appeal to the Ministry of Finance to grant tax exemption to enable the contractor clear the goods from the port for the completion of the hospital with over 160 beds capacity.
Nevertheless, Mr. Agyeman-Manu said, the project has been scheduled for completion by end of this December, and assured that the ministry would work to ensure that the project is completed on schedule to reduce the health problems in the Upper West Region and its neighbours.
However, speaking to The Republic afterwards, Hon. Sandaare said, “The new Upper West Regional Hospital will benefit the over 2.5million people of Upper West and their neighbours who travel at distances in other regions to access healthcare services.
He said, currently, the region has no such type of hospital, making healthcare delivery very difficult, as people from the region have had to travel far to either the Tamale Teaching Hospital, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, or the Sunyani Regional Hospital to access healthcare.
The Daffiama/Bussie/Issa lawmaker said, this is not only compounding the health needs but also increasing financial burden to the already impoverished people in the Upper West Region who are predominately peasant farmers.
He said the NDC government that initiated the project in 2013 had promised to complete it by March, this year, but the change of government at the 2016 general elections affected that promise.
The project, Hon. Sandaare said, “is completely abandoned, the contractor is not on site and everything seems to be at a standstill,” adding that the delay in releasing the medical equipment from the port could eventually affect the use of such equipment as they may not be in good condition.
He expressed concern that the continued delay in completiing the project would worsen the plight of the people and therefore called on the Ministry of Finance to expedite action to save the lives of the people of Upper West.
Work on the much-awaited 160- bed capacity Regional Hospital for the Upper West Region commenced in 2013, after late President John Evans Atta Mills cut the sod for the project in 2010.
The project is being funded by Barclays Bank, while Tieso Ghana Limited is doing the constructional works and it was estimated to cost $21.5 million.
Source: Therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba