10 years in the making
How long does it take to complete a two-year project for constructing a medical facility? For a government hospital struggling to cope with patient flow, the answer is more than a decade.
The extension building of Sher-e-Bangla Medical College and Hospital (SBMCH), which is under construction since 2007, was supposed to be handed over to the medical authority in December last year, but construction authorities failed to do so yet again.
The building would alleviate the sufferings of thousands of patients, as the hospital has been facing an acute crisis of available patient rooms for the last three decades.
About 1,800-2,000 patients are generally admitted to the hospital, although it can only accommodate 1,000, said Dr Bakir Hossain, the hospital's director. A total of 4,000-5,000 patients regularly take treatment from the outpatient department.
In 2007, the health ministry had approved the construction of a seven-storey extension building to ease the crisis.
In October that year, Public Works Department (PWD) in Barishal floated an open tender in this regard. Azad Construction and Mercantile Corporation were jointly awarded the project, with a budget of Tk 25 crore, according to PWD.
At the beginning of 2011, the contractors appealed to revise the project as its implementation cost had increased by that time.
Later, duration of the project was extended by one and a half years, following an appeal made by the contractors, said Dr Bakir.
On August 8, 2012, PWD rejected an appeal to revise the project again, cancelling tender agreement with the contractors. The contractors then filed a petition with the High Court against the cancellation. The HC rejected it in 2015.
Following the work suspension, The Daily Star had run multiple stories on the issue, highlighting patients' sufferings.
In early 2018, construction firm Kohinoor Enterprise got the worker order through a fresh tender to complete five-storeys of the building.
"The building was supposed to be handed over to us in January, 2019. Later, authorities extended the project period till December last year, but work is still ongoing." said Dr Bakir.
"I've been shocked to see patients lying on the floor, but we can't do anything about it." he said, adding that the new building would reduce patient sufferings.
Rezaul Karim, director of Kohinoor Enterprise, said, "We have finished main construction, including installing utilities, of the building. We will hand it over to PWD by February 28."
Contacted, Oliver Ghuda, executive engineer of PWD in Barishal, said, "The project was resumed under a fresh tender of Tk 8.10 crore…The building will be handed over to hospital authorities by June, after installating two elevators and a gas plant."
The contractor could not finish the work in time due to a fund crisis last year, he added.
SBMCH was established in 1968 with 500 beds. In 2013, the number of beds was increased to 1,000 without increasing required infrastructures. The new building will add 300 new beds initially, and later, the two more floors would be constructed to accommodate 200 more beds.