E14m CLINIC A WHITE ELE­PHANT

…health fa­cil­ity re­mains non-op­er­a­tional due to gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to con­struct a pit la­trine and pro­vide clean wa­ter

Sunday Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STORIES BY FOR­TUNE NDLANGAMANDLA

AE14 mil­lion com­pleted and ful­ly­fur­nished Ikhwezi Clinic has re­mained non-op­er­a­tional for al­most a year ow­ing to gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to con­struct a pit la­trine and pro­vide clean wa­ter.

This has led to res­i­dents of the area and sur­round­ings ques­tion­ing why gov­ern­ment wasted mil­lions con­struct­ing the health fa­cil­ity when it (gov­ern­ment) had no plans to op­er­ate it.

The clinic is sit­u­ated at Mcat­fu­vane. Dur­ing a visit to the area on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, some res­i­dents who spoke to this pub­li­ca­tion on con­di­tion of anonymity said the clinic has not been op­er­a­tional for al­most a year.

They said the con­struc­tion and fur­nish­ing of the clinic con­sumed about E14 mil­lion.

The World Bank, to­gether with the Euro­pean Union (EU), as­sisted in con­struc­tion of the health fa­cil­ity.

The 16-room clinic in­cludes lab­o­ra­tory, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, laun­dry, clean­ers’, en­vi­ron­men­tal, staff rest­ing, den­tist and med­i­ca­tion rooms to name but a few.

It was con­structed as a means to bring a health fa­cil­ity closer to res­i­dents and deal with dis­eases such HIV and AIDS and Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

Cur­rently, health em­ploy­ees sta­tioned in this fa­cil­ity are us­ing a di­lap­i­dated struc­ture while they await gov­ern­ment to con­struct the pit la­trine and pro­vide clean wa­ter.

“The toi­let is ex­pected to have six rooms for fe­males, five for males as well as two for staff,” a source said.

At­tempts by the res­i­dents to con­struct the pit la­trine were fu­tile as af­ter they had dug a huge pit us­ing man­power, they were told that they should raise E300 000 for its con­struc­tion.

It was agreed that each homestead should con­trib­ute E200 to­wards the con­struc­tion of the toi­let. Some of the res­i­dents forked out the con­tri­bu­tions while some did not. The res­i­dents have also failed to se­cure spon­sor­ship from in­de­pen­dent donors. On the other hand, at­tempts to dig a bore­hole has failed to bring the de­sired re­sults af­ter about three at­tempts as there was still no wa­ter.

Worth not­ing is that the clinic is sit­u­ated at the lowveld, which has al­ways been hit by drought over the past years.

A source close to the mat­ter also in­formed this pub­li­ca­tion that some of the drugs de­liv­ered at the hospi­tal were set to ex­pire next year. This in­cludes the one used for di­a­betic test­ing.

This means costly stacks would be de­stroyed while gov­ern­ment, on the other hand, has re­port­edly run out of es­sen­tial drugs on nu­mer­ous times dur­ing the year. Con­tacted for com­men­ton on the mat­ter, Di­rec­tor of Health Ser­vices Dr Vusi Ma­gag­ula, said the main chal­lenge was the un­avail­abil­ity of wa­ter.

He said the min­istry of health had tried all means pos­si­ble to get wa­ter but failed. Dr Ma­gag­ula went on to add that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment fis­cal chal­lenges has also made things worse as the min­istry can­not hire new staff.

“The in­ten­tion is good be­cause the peo­ple of the area need the clinic but what can we do?” Ma­gag­ula asked rhetor­i­cally.

When asked if wa­ter as­sess­ments were done be­fore the con­struc­tion of the clinic, Dr Ma­gag­ula re­sponded to the af­fir­mi­tive. He said all nec­es­sary as­sess­ments were con­ducted by rel­e­vant stake­hold- ers, in­clud­ing the min­istry of pub­lic works and trans­port.

On the other hand, he could nei­ther con­firm nor deny that the clinic was worth E14 mil­lion and that the pit la­trine’s con­struc­tion would cost around E300 000. He could only say he was yet to con­firm with the min­istry’s of health plan­ners on the fig­ures. He stated that there were three dif­fer­ent plans with vary­ing costs.

Dr Ma­gag­ula em­pha­sised that it was not gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion not to use the fa­cil­ity but it was some­thing beyond their con­trol.

“We wait and hope that things would be bet­ter so that we can be able to use the clinic,” Dr Ma­gag­ula said.

The di­lap­i­dated clinic cur­rently in use. (Pics: For­tune Ndlangamandla)

The wa­ter tanks where the staff source wa­ter.

The pit la­trine dug by the res­i­dents.

A close shot of one of the staff houses.

A wide shot of the idle E14 mil­lion clinic.

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