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Opinions of Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Columnist: Sarpong, Justice

Mahama And Ridge Hospital Renovation "Armed Robbery"

400-bed Hospital Costs $50 million at Tamale and a 220-bed Hospital Costs US$306 Million at Accra, Does it make any sense ?

Ghana’s continuous population growth means that more social facilities, including hospitals and clinics would have to be constructed and existing ones need to be expanded to meet the growing demand for quality health care.We support the development of Ghana’s health sector and indeed, every other sector and we appreciate the need to expand and improve the facilities so as to increase productivity. However, we are alarmed at a recent report at the Ridge hospital and shocked at the amount of money that is supposedly being spent on the expansion of the Ridge hospital from a 200 bed to a 420 bed capacity at a questionable cost of $306 million.

Since the Minister of Health came up with the ministry's and, thereby, the government's approval of the US$306 million price-tag for the renovation and 220-bed expansion of the Ridge Hospital, though the Minister of Health has come out with a price tag of $250 million as if that is reasonable, a lot of people and organizations have expressed disgust, anger, disappointment, frustration, and astonishment at the price-tag and the audacity of presenting such an outrageous bill to the nation. Flawed as the constitution of Ghana is, -- the constitution is flawed because it was drafted not with the welfare of Ghana as the primary focus, but the protection of just a few undeserving people as the main driver -- there are a few checks that are available to address such blatant and nonchalant display of corrupt activities bordering on abject criminality. But the parliament responsible for making sure that, at least, due diligence is performed in all transactions brought before it is acting complicit in almost every such presentation.

Almost contrary to form, the minority in parliament called for investigations into the costs associated with the renovation and 200-bed expansion of the Ridge Hospital. There had been reports of a Nigerian philantropist building a 1000-bed hospital for about US$12 million. There also was another report about a 175-bed state-of-the-art hospital built and equipped in Texas for about US$120 million. Organizations and people have been up in arms against the hastily approved funding of the Ridge Hospital renovation and expansion. So these developments, it is assumed, are what have propelled the minority in parliament to demanid investigations into the unimaginable costs associated with the Ridge Hospital project.

These are the questions that comes to mind as the investigations are conducted by the legislative branch.

a. What are the itemized costs and timelines of the renovations?

b. What are the itemized costs and timelines of the expansions?

c. What references and standards were used to come up with the associated costs?

d. Are there any similar constructions in Ghana or Africa?

e. Who was responsible for conducting the due diligence?

The above-mentioned questions, among others, are worth asking, because, as it turns out, there are ready answers to these queries. In December of 2010, the Chinese built and equipped the 100-bed Lekma hospital at Teshie for about US$13 million; the Teshie hospital has similar facilities and amenities as the yet-to-be-commenced Ridge Hospital project. This Lekma hospital project was approved and managed by this current government. See link below:

Additionally, a 400-bed well equipped hospital was constructed by this same current government for 39.3 million Euros which is about $50 million in Tamale in January of 2014; this is less than 4 months ago. This Tamale hospital was touted by the government as one of the best in the nation.

The second phase of this Tamale Teaching hospital will cost 48.5 million euros, about $60 million. Specific projects under the second phase include the construction of a five-storey block with medical and surgical wards, faculty offices, tutorial and conference rooms; a second five-storey block with operating theatres, maternity wards and facilities; a three-story accident and emergency building and reception area, as well as beds for emergencies.

Others are: a link building, a new mortuary with pathology unit and laboratory; a new medical gases plant; assorted medical equipment; ancillary facilities including power plant; waste management section and staff accommodation..

Completion of the first phase brought the bed capacity of the hospital to 400. The second phase will add 400 more beds and increase the bed capacity of the hospital to 800

See link below:

This government has constructed a 100-bed hospital for about US$13 million and a 400-bed hospital for about US$54.6 milliion. Now this same government is proposing to construct a 200-bed hospital for US$306 million (The Health Minister now says the actual project cost is US$250 million, instead). This provides the members of parliament who are interested, at least, a starting point to help conduct the Ridge Hospital investigations.

But the general question is why are the Ghanaian people not angry? Why are the electorate not demanding answers from their elected officials? Why is no one being prosecuted and jailed? What is the downside to lack of prosecution and incarceration? What is the upside to prosecution and incarceration? Do the populace realize what US$306 million can do for them? Who is in charge of the country? And does anyone care? How can we build a 400 bed hospital with all those amenities for $50 million and within four months a less bed capacity with less amenities is going to cost $250 million, does it make any sense?

Justice Sarpong


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