COVID-19: Contractor Threatens To Shut Down Cross River Isolation Centre Over N68m Debt

In Breaking News, Health, National News, Reports

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

Mr. Obi James Achara, the managing director of Obi Achara limited, the firm, contracted to construct the isolation center for the COVID-19 pandemic in Calabar, the Cross River State capital is threatening to shut down the facility following the non-payment of a NGN68 million debt.

The Sun Newspapers reports that work at the isolation center began in 2017 when Professor Thomas Agan was the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH). The facility was named the Center for Emerging Pathogens Research and Management (UCTH-CEPREM). The work at the site is 95 percent completed.

The center is said to be the only one within Cross River, Ebonyi, and Benue states, where the Lassa fever epidemic is said to be high and was expected to stop the current practice of sending specimens to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo state for testing.

And, Mr. Achara in a press briefing in Calabar, said he would apply all legal means to close down the center for failure of the hospital management to meet its own contractual agreement.

According to him, after three months of sending series of letters on the need to offset the amount of NGN68 million owed him, nothing had been said or done even as suppliers were breathing down his neck since 2017.

“We have written a series of letters in December 2019, January and March, 2020 to the hospital management over the non payment of the balance of our payment to the tune of NGN68 million. But there has been to reply to that effect.

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

“We followed all due process in executing the contractual agreement and are happy that the center 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 center for the failure of the hospital management to meet its own contractual agreement,” he stated.
Reacting, the current CMD of the UCTH Professor Ikpeme Ikpeme, admitted that the contractor built the center but promised that management was making every effort to pay once funds were available.

His words: “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.”

This revelation is contrary to claims in some quarters that the Cross River State government is responsible for the building and equipping of the isolation center.

The donation of equipment to the center is also currently shrouded in controversy.

NB: 7:13PM The post has been updated to reflect the CrossRiverWatch choice of spelling of some words and the addition of Paragraph twelve

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