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NDC and NPP’s ‘fight’ over Tolon District Hospital: Here are the Facts About the Project

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Ghana’s Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Monday, November 23, 2020, commissioned the Tolon district hospital in the Northern Region. 

He said the facility is one of the six medical facilities which began three (3) years ago.

The other facilities are the 80-bed Hospital at Somanya in the Eastern Region; 80-bed District Hospital at Buipe in the Savannah Region; 60-bed Hospital at Wheta in the Volta Region; 60- bed Hospital at Sawla in the Savannah Region and a 30-bed Polyclinic at Bamboi in the Savannah Region.

In addressing the gathering at the ceremony, he remarked that the commissioning of the project proves wrong persons who claim the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has not built a single health facility since it came to power in January 2017. 

“Today’s event is a testament to the fact that truth crawls but will always triumph over falsehood…All of these facilities are practically complete and will be inaugurated one after the other by the close of the year, 2020,” Dr Bawumia said at the event.  

His claim is, however, disputed by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which contends that the project is a legacy left behind by the John Mahama NDC administration. 

A former Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu in a Facebook post said the Akufo-Addo government knows nothing about the project. 

“The Tolon District Hospital is yet another legacy of President Mahama. He found money for it in April 2016 and the contract for it and four others, as well as a Polyclinic at Bole, was awarded and signed with Vamed in September 2016. Akufo-Addo knows nothing about it and nothing about it knows Akufo-Addo,” Kwakye Ofosu’s post read. 

There is, therefore, divided opinion on social media over who should be credited for the project. 

While supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) insist that is an achievement of the government, supporters of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) say the project must be credited to them. 

What are the facts about the project and who can lay claim to it? 

Based on the background information that the Tolon District Hospital and the five other health facilities were externally funded, we checked the Parliament of Ghana’s archive of agreements and memoranda and found that the agreement for funding and construction of the facilities was submitted to parliament in March 2016 when the NDC’s John Mahama was still in office. 

According to the document, President Mahama gave executive approval to the credit agreement a day before it was sent to Parliament.

Per the document, a total amount of €89.9 million was sought from the Raiffeisen Bank International of Austria for the design, construction, equipping and furnishing of five new district hospitals at Somanya, Buipe, Sawla, Wheta, Tolon, and one Polyclinic at Bamboi.

The Ministry of Health in a press release on September 7, 2016, indicated that an agreement had been signed with Vamed Engineering group as the contractor to execute the project. 

According to many news reports such as one on Myjoyonline and GBC Ghana, John Mahama, on January 1, 2017, days before officially handing over power to the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo, held a ceremony in Wheta in the Volta Region to symbolically cut sod for all the five district hospital projects.  

At the function, he said funding had been approved and he was hopeful that the incoming government will continue with the projects. 

In his last State of the Nation Address on January 5, 2020, John Mahama restated the fact that he had cut sod for the projects to start. 

In the 2017 budget statement [Page 113] read by the new government’s finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta on March 2, 2017, the NPP government said it will continue the work that had started for the five district hospitals including the Tolon district hospital as well as the Polyclinic in Bamboi. 

Despite the development, media reports from Daily Guide and Citi FM indicate that President Akufo-Addo in July 2018 again cut sod for the construction of the Tolon district hospital while on a 3-day tour of the Northern Region.

A photo from the ceremony used by Daily Guide shows that at the time, blockwork was yet to commence, although the site had been prepared. 

In the 2019 budget statement [Page 175] item 899, the Minister for Finance said, “In 2019, the following projects will continue: completion and equipping of Bekwai district hospital; four district hospital projects at Sawla, Tolon, Somanya, Buipe and a polyclinic at Bamboi; construction of Axim hospital; and rehabilitation of Effia-Nkwanta emergency, maternity and children’s block.”

Again in the 2020 budget statement [Page 185] item 1033, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta said, the construction of 5 District Hospitals in Sawla, Tolon, Somanya, Buipe and Wheta and a Polyclinic in Bamboi will continue. 

The contractors, VAMED Engineering GmbH on their website listed the Tolon District Hospital project contract’s execution as spanning from 2016 to 2020. 

Conclusion:

Evidence shows that the John Mahama administration started work on the Tolon District Hospital project by getting parliamentary approval for its funding agreement, signing the agreement with the contractor and cutting sod for the commencement of construction. 

The Akufo-Addo administration also cut sod for the project and blockwork (actual construction) was undertaken during this administration.

Both leaders, therefore, played a role in the construction of the Tolon District Hospital. 

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