By Ita Akpan
Contractors handling the isolation centre projects for COVID-19 and other vulnerable diseases at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, have threatened to shut it down over non remittance of 68 million naira debt.
According to a reliable source who spoke off record, the Centre for Emerging Pathigens Research and Management (UCTH-CEPREM) was started since 2016 in the hospital under the former Chief Medical Director, Prof Thomas Agan and completed in 2017 but the keys were handed over to the management of UCTH 2020 following the spate of Lassa fever and reports of COVID-19.
Investigations conducted by www.csomedia.org however showed that on November 15, 2016, the management of UCTH awarded the construction of an infectious disease centre (isolation centre) through an award letter UCTH/CMD/PROG/02M/45 at the cost of N68.7m to Obi Achara Ltd.
But, the Managing Director of Obi Achara Nigeria Limited, James Obi, told newsmen Thursday that his company decided to hand over the centre because of goodwill and in consideration of the health and well-being of Nigerians.
Obi said he was shocked that after three months nothing has been said or done even suppliers were now threatening to kidnap him over his Company’s inability to pay for item they bought from them siince 2016.
“We have written severally to the hospital management over the nonpayment of the balance of our payment in the tune of n68million.
“We eventually completed the project and many others as far back as 2017, but they refused to pay us ,out of goodwill and the interest of the people , we decided to hand over the centre with the view of getting payment as promised but till date we have not heard anything.
“We followed all due process in executing the contractual agreement and happy that the centre has become very useful in the outbreak of COVID-19.
“We have written severally to the management all to no avail ,we would apply all legal means to close down the centre for the failure of the hospital management to meet their own contractual agreement,”
Mr. Obi lament.
When contacted ,Chief Medical Director, CMD, UCTH, Prof Ikpeme Ikpeme told our reporter on phone that they were not denying the fact that the contractor built the center but were going to pay him when funds were available .
His words: “We are not denying that we owe him, but we pleaded with him to kindly hand over the place to us, which he did and we promised to pay him when funds were available.
“We have not reneged on our promise and we don’t have time lag as far as the payment is concerned but what we said in the agreement was that, once funds were available we will pay, and we have not deviated from that”, Ikpeme stressed.