Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
REFURBISHMENTS on the doctors’ apartments that were gutted by fire at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo are nearing completion, with focus now shifting to interior work as authorities at the institution aim to resettle displaced medical practitioners in their new quarters at the beginning of next year.
On 27 May, 41 doctors were forced to escape through windows when fire gutted the building and reduced to ashes all their belongings including household property, certificates, food and clothes. In addition to the three doctors’ residencies, a fourth building, the nurses’ hostel, is also under renovation after Government officials declared it unsafe for habitation.
The Government pledged $287 million towards the reconstruction of three doctors’ quarters that were burnt down, with stakeholders that included Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) joining hands to work on the project. Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said focus had shifted to the interior as refurbishment work gathered pace.
“What needs to be done now is the inside work. I am referring to the tiling, plumbing, installing the plumbing taps and so forth. We also need to do some painting before the doctors can take up residence again,” he said.
Prof Ngwenya said although the initial target was to complete the project within three months, they had discovered that the work that needed to be undertaken was extensive.
“The initial time frame was to do this within three months but unfortunately it became a massive job. The city council Fire Brigade put the loss at $US1,5 million. So, the task is monumental and we also had to build better by demolishing some rooms and redesigning some and even building some en suites. All this combined stretched our time limits.
As of now we are working very well and we will probably complete it early next year,” he said.
Prof Ngwenya said although they had not yet exhausted their budget, the Government had promised to avail more funds if the need arose.
“So far we have received from Treasury $250 million and we have spent around $158 million as of Friday. So, the project is well funded and Government has promised to give us more despite the fact that we have not finished the $250 million that was given to us. We still have a few millions to go,” he said.
Prof Ngwenya also added that construction work had been delayed by Covid-19 related issues.
“There were delays in around June/ July when the pandemic was at its worst. It disrupted the movement of workers and affected a few of them who had to take time off and quarantine and so forth. The pandemic is affecting all facets of life,” he said.
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