By Bulmun Dakwal
John Kwapyong, a farmer in the Kwapkuwa community had a brief illness sometime in June 2022. His situation became worse and his family decided to take him to the hospital but they couldn’t get a means to transport him. He died.
Relatives said he was battling typhoid and on that fateful day, he woke up complaining of severe headache and died before they could get him to the nearest public health clinic in Pangshom ward, Gidan Adamu, a community which is about two kilometres away from Kwapkuwa.
Mr Kwapyong probably would have survived if only he had quick access to a health facility within his community.
“We stood at the road for over 30 minutes before we could get a motorcycle but he couldn’t make it,” his son, Tsenlat John, said.
Reports of people losing their lives due to lack of access to health care are increasing in the Kwapkuwa community in Shendam local government of Plateau state. Mr Kwapyong’s story is one out of the numerous that have occurred due to a lack of health facilities.
But there’s a clinic that should serve the community.
In 2022, Komsol Alphansus, the former lawmaker representing Shendam, Quanpan and Mikang federal constituency in the House of Representatives at the time, nominated the ‘Construction of a Public Health Clinic in Kwapkuwa, Shendam LGA, Plateau State’. N25 million was budgeted for the project.
UDEME, a social accountability project of the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), reached out to the office of the Account-General of the Federation to inquire about cash backing for the project.
The Account-General office confirmed that a total of N25 million was released for the project in three tranches; first tranche was N10 million, followed by the second tranche which was also N10 million and the last tranche which was N5 million in the year 2022.
Upon visitation to the site where the health centre is being built in Kwapkuwa community, UDEME noticed that although the project had started, it has not been completed.
The project supervisor, Uti Bulus, told UDEME that the work on site stopped a week before the general elections.
Rita Danladi, a resident, told UDEME how community dwellers travel far distances to access primary health care.
“We always have to look for motorcycles or cars which takes a lot of time because the community is far from the main town where you can easily get access to them, especially when going out. We have had several instances where families lose their loved ones due to the challenge of accessing a motorcycle or car fast enough to get to the clinic from the neighbouring community,” she said.
Bidas Stephen, the youth leader of the Kwapkuwa community, told UDEME how the community saw the need for a health clinic and through a meeting, conceived the idea of siting it as soon as possible.
“I remember how the people were so happy when the project started, I personally was very happy for this development. Though the project has stopped, we believe that he will complete it soon because he has been of great impact to this community with all his past projects, I know this won’t be an exception,” Mr Stephen said.
Findings by UDEME show that the project was awarded to a construction company, AE&E, Nigeria Limited, which Is located at Wuse 2, Abuja, Nigeria.
Mr Bulus, who supervises the project on behalf of the company said workers took a break for the election.
“The project is ongoing; the workers and contractors have been working very hard, they went on break because of the elections but I am not sure why they have not returned yet,” he said.
When asked for the contact of the contractor, Mr Bulus declined but offered to call the site engineer who he introduced as Mr Ismail.
“They are waiting to be remobilised to continue the work, the reason why they haven’t commenced work since after the break is because there are no funds on ground for them to continue,” he said after the call.
The lawmaker, Mr Alphonsus, said the project was stopped for financial reasons.
“You know it is a budgetary project, the funds were not completely released, they just recently released the funds and they will be resuming work soon” Hon. Alphonsus said.
When asked how soon, he said work should start by the month of June. The villagers are hopeful that the PHC Clinic would be completed before the year runs out.
This report was produced under the UDEME project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).