Friday, 3 April 2020

Pandemonium as Contractors threaten to shutdown C’River Isolation centre over N68m debt

Ukorebi Esien | March 26, 2020

There was drama and pandemonium mixed with fear this morning when the contractors who built the property currently used by the Cross River State government as isolation centre for COVID-19 Coronavirus and other vulnerable diseases at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, threatened to shut it down over non-payment of sixty-eight million Naira (68,000,000) debt.

TheManaging Director of Obi Achara Nigeria Ltd, James Obi, who Briefed newsmen, Thursday in Calabar, said that his company decided to hand over the centre because of goodwill and in consideration of the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.

Obi said he was shocked that after three months later, nothing has been said or done even suppliers were now threatening to kidnap him over his Company's inability to pay for item they bought from them since 2016.


"We have written severally to the hospital management over the nonpayment of the balance of our payment in the tune of 68million naira.

"We completed the project and many others as far back as 2017, but they refused to pay us. Out of goodwill and the interest of the people, we decided to hand over the centre with the view of getting payment as promised but till date we have not heard anything.

"We followed all due processes in executing the contractual agreement and happy that the centre has become very useful in the outbreak of COVID-19.

"We have written severally to the management all to no avail, we would apply all legal means to close down the centre for the failure of the hospital management to meet their own contractual agreement," Obi lamented.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director, CMD, UCTH, Prof. Ikpeme Ikpeme told VANGUARD NEWSPAPER on Thursday that they were not denying the fact that the contractor built the centre but were going to pay him when funds were available.

Ikpeme said: "We are not denying that we are owing him, but we pleaded with him to kindly hand over the place to us, which he did and we promised to pay him when funds were available.

"We have not reneged on our promise and we don't have time as far as the payment is concerned but what we said in the agreement was that, once funds were available we will pay, and we have not deviated from that".

It was gathered that the Centre for Emerging Pathogens Research and Management (UCTH-CEPREM) was started in 2016 in the hospital under the former Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Thomas Agan, and completed in 2017 but the keys were  handed over to the management of UCTH in 2020 following the spate of Lassa fever and reports of COVID-19.

Reports show that on November 15, 2016, the management of UCTH awarded the construction of an infectious disease centre (isolation centre) through an award letter UCTH/CMD/PROG/02M/45 at the cost of N68.7m to Obi Achara Ltd.