Ill-conceived plans and fumbling departmental governance has left the construction site of what was meant to become a small specialist hospital in limbo. The hospital was first envisaged as a centre for hepatitis management and was inaugurated on March 19, 2001.
Gul Muhammad Memorial Hospital for Hepatitis C is situated in Nishtarabad, on half a kanal of land. It is a four-storeyed building. One of the reasons the building remains incomplete is the required amount was never released by the provincial health department at the time.
When terrorism peaked in Peshawar in 2009, it was decided the building would be converted into a full-fledged burn unit. None of the major hospitals in the city had a proper burn unit. However, that plan also took a nosedive.
Fast forward to March 8, 2013 and the hospital was inaugurated for a second time. The adviser to then Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Haroon Bilour led the ceremony and the hospital was given the name Gul Medical Complex. This time around, it was meant to provide specialised services for paediatrics and gynaecology.
Locals who have seen the project morph and stretch over a decade are no longer hopeful it will be completed soon, especially since a contractor has converted the basement into a car park – all this without getting clearance from the relevant government department.
“The engineers who designed this building had a falling out with the government. The non-availability of funds allocated for the building just brought work to a grinding halt,” explained Muhammad Illyas, one of the guards at the site.
Another factor stalling the project, Illyas said, were the differing visions officials had for the specialised treatment the hospital would offer – there was no consensus on which disease the unit would treat.
Jehanzab Khan, another worker at the site, shared the government had not been releasing funds for the construction but it is now expected work would resume as early as this month.
However, Health Special Secretary Dr Akbar Khan told The Express Tribune he needed to confirm the official status of the project. Akbar added he would have complete details by Monday (today) after confirming with his chief planning officer.
“I know it was converted into a burn unit but now a full-fledged unit is being constructed at the Hayatabad Medical Complex for the victims of bomb blasts,” noted the special secretary.
The Health Secretariat will take action against the use of the building for personal gain, promised Dr Khan. He added relevant departments would press for the hospital’s completion at its earliest.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2013.