It is indeed shocking that despite the health ministry's approval in 2007 for the construction of a seven-storey extension building for Sher-e-Bangla Medical College and Hospital (SBMCH) in Barishal, the project is yet to be finished. According to a report by The Daily Star, the building has been under construction for 10 years now and was due for handover to the medical authorities in December last year. With a capacity to admit 1,000 patients, the existing hospital presently accommodates 1,800-2,000 patients on average. Moreover, 4,000-5,000 patients seek treatment from the outpatient department regularly. Needless to say, the purpose of the extended building was to address the needs of the huge influx of patients that SBMCH receives. Our report further states that the hospital has been dealing with this crisis for the last three decades.
According to the Public Works Department (PWD), two firms were jointly awarded the construction project in 2007 with a budget of Tk 25 crore, but by 2011 they appealed to revise the project as the implementation cost had increased. The legal procedures that followed suspended the venture, causing further delay. Later in 2018, a new tender worth Tk 8.10 crore was given to a new firm to construct five storeys of the building which was initially supposed to be handed over by January 2019, but due to fund crisis, was later rescheduled to December 2019.
We do not understand why there should be repeated delays in a project of such significance, which was supposed to alleviate the sufferings of the patients. This is an example of how essential infrastructure often remains out of reach of the beneficiaries because of the inefficient management of projects. Nearing its completion now, the firm constructing the building has confirmed that they will be handing over the building to PWD by tomorrow, February 28, and PWD will complete the remaining work by June. We urge the government to make sure the deadline is met this time. Such apathy regarding healthcare is totally unacceptable. Patients should not have to suffer because of the indifference and inefficiency of officials and project authorities.