A state-of-the-art referral hospital in rural Nyabihu district whose construction has been dragging on for the past two years, must now be completed within one year, and not the planned two years; two ministries involved were directed on Thursday.
Nyabihu district in north-western Rwanda already has a smaller Shyira hospital, but government decided in 2014 to expand it to a referral hospital to reduce pressure on other referral facilities in neighboring districts.
However, it emerged later that expanding Shyira hospital would cost Rwf3billion ($4m), compared to building an entirely new and much larger facility at about Rwf5billion ($6.8m).
It was eventually decided early this year that a new facility be built instead, at another location in the same district.
The ministry of health engaged the Rwanda Defense Forces’ engineering regiment to construct the hospital, a mechanism that costs much less compared to hiring a private construction firm.
Today at the close of a two-week ITORERO for local mayors and district councils from across Rwanda, officials from Nyabihu district raised the issue of the hospital.
A back-and-forth exchange between President Paul Kagame with the Defense and Health ministers indicated that the money was yet to be allocated to the hospital; a process that had to wait until the budget is decided on after June, 2016.
President Kagame was also informed that in addition, the planned period of construction would be two years.
However, in their submission, the Nyabihu district officials had suggested that it would be better if the hospital is completed by 2017.
“Why does construction of a hospital that everybody deems necessary have to take two years?” Kagame wondered, amid loud applause from the audience.
The Defense Minister Gen. James Kabarebe responded that if the “budget” was available, construction would start immediately.
He assured that it will actually take the army one year to build it, and not two years.
“I think there is no need to wait for the entire budget allocation of Rwf5billion, we can look for Rwf500m from elsewhere and start with that…the rest can be availed along the way,” said Kagame.
The ministries of defense and health now have a huge task to deliver a large hospital within one year, falling short of which could come with consequences, at least as seen from the President’s tone.
Meanwhile, in the same address, Kagame told the new local mayors and district councils that they had to stop the “routine” that had been left behind by their predecessors. The event was broadcast live on state TV and Radio.
Before the election of new local mayors from a process which ended last month, KT Press conducted a review of their tenure. We established that among mayors elected in past 10 years for five year mandates- only two survived through their terms.
Many couldn’t handle the pressure, they resigned. Some were fired. And several are facing prosecution over various cases.
President Kagame was today particularly concerned about the GIRINKA project – a one-cow-per-family initiative which reports has seriously fallen short.
Local officials in many areas ignored the targeted beneficiaries. The cows went to the well-to-do. In some parts, the beneficiaries had to part with some money for the officials distributing the cows.
“Appetite for grabbing anything is so high that officials end up grabbing even the cows meant for the poorest Rwandans,” said Kagame.
The President also condemned what he described as the culture of “connivance” among officials to hide wrongdoing.
Such “foreign conduct”, Kagame said, will eventually give rise to culture of “I don’t care” among the population because they will increasingly feel left out of all aspects of national development.