By: Bernadettah Kaphwiyo
People of Phalombe district have expressed worry over the government delays in the construction of a hospital in the district despite millions of kwachas already allocated for the project.
The project which was supposed to commence 15 years ago has not yet started and no foundation stone has been laid down at the site.
Speaking with The Malawi Star, residents could not hide their anger over the government. They described the failure as a rejection and abandonment of the community.
“We feel rejected and not part of the country’s priority, we have seen many projects being done and completed in time, take the Blantyre Chipembere Highway project for example; it has been done and completed while the government keeps promising us a hospital. Many people lose their lives and women end up giving birth on their way to Holy Trinity Hospital which is far away,” said a disgruntled resident.
In his remarks, Executive Director at The Institute for Policy Interaction, Rafiq Hajat said it is high time for local people to rise up and probe government to hasten the construction.
“The legitimate way is for the people to pressurize government through their district assembly, or the media, because what we hear now is that the government is calling on proposals, or the government is doing this or that without seeing anything tangible and concrete on the project,” said Hajat.
“The current health centre cannot cater for half a million people and the government has to hasten the construction,” continued Hajat.
However, in a telephone interview, Minister of Health, Peter Kumpalume said the project might stale a little longer since the donors are yet to set the dates for the commencement of the said project. He attributed the delay to the Arab donors who are funding the project.
“Everything is there we are just waiting for the people who are funding the project to give us a go ahead. Once this is done we will work nonstop until we finalize the project,” said Kumpalume.
In 2010, the Malawi government through the parliament sourced a loan from the Arab Bank for Economic Development amounting to $7 million for the project and was approved the same year.
During the Joyce Banda Administration, the government signed a deal with the Saudi Fund for Development for a loan amounting to $12 million which was also approved in parliament.
So far the people in Phalombe are still waiting for the hospital which was promised to them and are yet see the results. This follows the revelation that the Chitakale – Phalombe road which started during the Muluzi era is also yet to be completed.