A blame game over an outstanding electricity bill of over Tk 11 lakh is now blocking operation of the newly constructed building of the state-run hospital in Bagerhat.
The building, contains 150 beds, was completed in December 2017 as an extension of the Bagerhat Sadar Hospital.
The Public Works Department (PWD) claims the health department of the district had not cleared the electricity bills since completion of the building and thus it could not be handed over.
According to Bagerhat PWD, a bill of Tk 11 lakh and 30,000 thousand is to be paid by Bagerhat Civil Surgeon Dr GKM Shamsuzzaman.
“The electricity bills are pending against the name of the civil surgeon. We are trying to resolve the issue as early as possible,” Mobarak Hossain, executive engineer at Bagerhat PWD said, adding that the construction cost of the building was Tk 33 crore.
“It was completed one-and-a-half years ago but the health department is not taking over the building. The contractor did clear the temporary metre bills upon finishing the construction work.” Palash Kumar, executive engineer of West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd, echoed him.
“A series of letters were exchanged between PWD and Bagerhat Health Department regarding the outstanding bills. PWD had asked the civil surgeon to take over the building but he did not comply stating different reasons,” said Palash Kumar.
When asked about the matter, Bagerhat Civil Surgeon Dr GKM Shamsuzzaman said he was not responsible for the deadlock.
“I have not yet received the building. How can the bills be made in my name?” he said, adding, “I am not capable of paying that sum. The matter has been informed to the Directorate General of Health Services.”
About 17 lakh people in nine upazilas of the district take treatment from the hospital. Construction of the new building started in June 2013 to upgrade the hospital from 100 beds to 250 beds under a project titled ‘Health Population and Nutrition Centre Development.’
Earlier, it was upgraded from 50 to 100 beds in 1997.
But now the patients are being deprived of the services despite completion of the new building.
Tandra Sikder, who came to the hospital for treatment, told this correspondent, “The building was completed in 2017 but has not been inaugurated till date. We want the authorities to launch its operations as soon as possible.
“It will upgrade the quality of overall health service in the district,” she added.
Another patient Dipankar Mondol said, “We wanted a 250-bed hospital. Although the construction was completed over a year ago, we are not getting the service due to bureaucratic issues. We need to travel to Khulna for better treatment.”
Earlier, Bagerhat PWD asked the health department of the district to receive the building, but the latter refused to take it showing some faults of the building.