Editorial: So KATH’S MBU has really suffered integrity test?
A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Professor Ohene Adjei, according to a report carried by the Daily Graphic yesterday, has expressed shock over the decision to demolish the 45˗year-old uncompleted Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) of the hospital to allow for the construction of an entirely new building.
The Daily Graphic further quoted Professor Ohene Adjei as saying that during his tenure at the hospital, all the reports conducted on the building indicated that it was in good condition and could be completed for use.
According to him, the government at that time approached an American company for assistance to complete the project, and ˝when they came to assess the building, they never gave any indication that it was not fit for purpose.˝
Prof. Adjei is, therefore, wondering how a government that was unable to find money to complete a project would now be in a position to find money to pull it down and put up a new one to replace it. The former CEO also told that paper that the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited had sat in all the meetings on the project, and had never recommended that the building be pulled down for doubts over its structural integrity and not being fit for purpose.
Though The Chronicle is not a structural expert to determine the integrity of the building or otherwise, we still think there is merit in the concern that has been raised by the former CEO. Pulling the gigantic building down will come at a great cost to the nation, but at the same time, if what the current contractor is saying – that the building is weak – is really true, the cost of human lives that would be lost cannot be quantified should the structure cave in.
The big question we must, however, be asking ourselves is whether our own Architectural and Engineering Services (AES) was really involved in determining the structural integrity of the forty-five year old building.
According to Professor Ohene Adjei, the AES took part in all the meetings during his reign to refurbish the building, and that they never raised a finger about the strength of the building. If this is so, then what has changed within seven years that he left office for the building to be pulled down?
All these questions, in our view, must be answered by the AES, but if they are keeping quiet and not commenting on the new development, it means they were not consulted before the decision was taken to pull down the building. Since the AES has the expertise as their foreign counterparts, the Ministry of Health must rely more on them than what their foreign colleagues will be telling them.
This is a project that has been left unattended for so many years. It took the singular efforts of President Akufo-Addo to raise a whopping €155 million to complete the entire project. The president did not end there, but personally went to Kumasi to cut the sod for the start of work on the project. Is the contractor, Contract UK Limited, telling us that at the time the President was performing the official ceremony for work to start on the project, he did not know that the structure has an integrity problem?
In our view, the action of the contractor does not add up, and that is why we are calling on the AES to come out to tell Ghanaians whether the structure is weak or not. Should they fail to come out as is being demanded, it means there is indeed a big question mark about the demolition decision that has been taken by the contractor.
As President Akufo-Addo himself admitted during the swearing in of the Council of State members on Tuesday, the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated our national economy, so we need to protect the little that we have instead of wasting it.