The construction of Ethiopia's second trauma hospital inside the compound of Alert Hospital is in limbo due to a shortage of finance. The project has seen significant delays after the contractor, Etete Construction, requested payment adjustment, claiming unexpected costs incurred during excavation works resulted from errors that occurred during the soil survey.

The delay was partly due to dense rock during the excavation work, which required extensive drilling, an executive of the construction firm claims.

The construction of the hospital began two and half years ago in the aftermath of the tragic landslide that occurred at Qoshe, two kilometres from Alert Hospital. Projected to cost 800 million Br, the hospital was planned to reduce the congestion of patients in public hospitals due to increases in traffic accidents, which have killed over 4,000 people last year, and other traumatic injuries.

The Addis Abeba Burn, Emergency & Trauma Hospital, which has 200 beds and functions fully, is the only medical institution fully dedicated to providing such a service.

The new hospital, sprawled on a 10,000sqm plot, is expected to be an eight-storey building with a dozen operation rooms and a capacity of 500 beds, including 50 intensive care units (ICU) beds. It was scheduled to be nearing completion by now, but less than half of the work has been carried out due to construction input shortages and skyrocketing prices, according to Tadesse Yemane, director of infrastructure development at the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry owns the project, and its representatives have begun talks with the managers of Etete Construction, hoping to work out the adjustment issues and a critical shortage of cement.

"The shortage in cement, in particular, has caused problems over the past six months," Tadesse told Fortune. "We've decided to adjust the contract amount, though the budget is yet to be disbursed by the Ministry of Finance."

Etete Construction has received 30pc of the project cost as an advance payment.

The company is trying to solve the issues with excavation and the shortage of materials with the Ministry of Health, according to a senior executive of Etete Construction. Officials at the Ministry are waiting for budget disbursement from the Ministry of Finance to adjust the project cost, considering price escalations.

Alert Hospital, founded in 1922, is going ahead with the building of a smaller, temporary expansion to better handle the large patient load. Located at the edge of Addis Abeba, the hospital serves an average of 1,500 patients a day, including residents from the Sebeta and Burayu areas.

The internal expansion project was launched a month ago with a budget of over 37 million Br, of which 10 million Br was injected from the Ministry. It incorporates an additional 12 ICUs through partitioning and a space that can hold 24 flexible beds for the outpatient department. The project also looks to improve maternal and childcare services, renovate sanitary spaces such as restrooms and commence drilling for groundwater.

"The delay has forced us to renovate and expand through making partitions and utilise the available space," said Alemseged Chane, communications director at Alert Hospital.

The outbreak of COVID-19 had created space constraints, and the Hospital eventually transferred COVID-19 patients to a nearby health centre in the Alem Bank area.

The construction of a research laboratory on 4,000sqm of space in the compound of Alert for the Armauer Hansen Research Institute, founded in 1970 and specialising in leprosy, is also underway. This 526 million Br project is financed by the Ministry of Health, contracted to Santa Maria Construction.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 19,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1103]

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