FRANCISTOWN: A P14 million building, touted as the country’s state-of-the-art centre for the disabled at the Gerald Estate here has been left to ruin almost a decade after its construction.
The building has now turned into a state of grave disrepair with a few broken windows and paint, which are an eyesore.
It is also evident that the building has considerably deteriorated and will have to undergo serious renovations to replace some components that have been destroyed and restore its outlook.
This is before it can be used, a development that would inevitably come at the taxpayer’s expense. When the facility was constructed, the Francistown City Council (FCC) was to run it.
The main features of the centre being the administration block, dining hall, hostels and electrical works were completed as far as January 2010.
The construction had begun in 2008. It was then discovered that there were minor outstanding works that had to be completed before the facility could reopen.
Some of the outstanding works featured a kitchen, storeroom, handrails, firefighting equipment and furniture. In addition, in 2014 the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development stated it will prioritise funding for completion of the outstanding works at the school during the 2014/15 financial year.
The Ministry never completed the outstanding works, and a decision was later taken (in 2017) to lease the school to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Then, Francistown mayor, Sylvia Muzila noted that the council did not have enough funds to complete the outstanding works and operating the school.
The Health Ministry was to use the facility as a rehabilitation centre. Under the lease agreement, the Health Ministry was to re-model the facility to suit the requirements of a rehabilitation centre.
The rehabilitation centre was envisaged to address the needs of people with neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, strokes and head injuries and children
The rehabilitation facility was to operate in three phases. Phase one was to start in the 2018/19 financial year and would have featured 20 beds and outpatient services for different services. Phase two would have seen an addition of more dependent clients such as those with quadriplegia while phase three was to include orthopaedic patients, including post-surgery.
This week, Christopher Nyanga, the spokesperson at the Health Ministry noted that they had intended to have the facility operational by now.
He, however, said that as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak the Ministry decided to change its plans. “The planned infrastructural adjustments as well as the specialised resourcing that needed to be done before the facility could be functional had to be put on hold.
Some of the materials that had been procured like beds and mattresses were conveyed to some COVID-19 isolation centres in the country to help address the pandemic,” he said when responding to a questionnaire by Mmegi.
Nyanga was not committal when asked when the Ministry intends to start operating the rehabilitation centre. This means that the building will continue to deteriorate as a result of not being utilised.
“The Ministry still has plans to operate the facility as a rehabilitation centre as was initially intended. As already alluded, the Ministry is currently seized with the COVID-19 pandemic and has thus temporarily shelved its plans with regard to this facility,” explained Nyanga.
In his response, Nyanga added that the Ministry has since engaged a security company which is paid P8, 100 per month to guard the facility to prevent it from vandalism.