Utako, a bustling urban district in Abuja, is home to a significant number of Federal Capital Territory residents. It features public and private offices, plazas, parks, an ultramodern market, schools, and other land uses. However, residents continually lament the lack of sufficient medical facilities in the area.
The construction of Utako District Hospital started almost two decades ago and was never completed. The site of the Utako District Hospital complex — a 220-bed hospital — is beside Utako Village on Ajose Adeogun Street. It has been abandoned for more than 15 years by successive Federal Capital Territory administrations. The hospital complex, which was awarded at the cost of N4.263 billion to M/S PPC Medical Systems, has now turned into a refuse dump. The contractor has left the site to scavengers, illegal squatters and tenants.
At the moment, the complex not only poses a physical threat of collapsing, but also poses an environmental threat to the residents living near it due to the odious stench of flowing waste and refuse dump in and around it. It is now a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.
Ifeanyi, the security guard at the hospital complex, told the Daily Trust that officials from the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) do inspect the abandoned facility, adding that the buildings could be demolished as they are weak. Corroborating Ifeanyi, Jane James, a resident, described the abandoned project as a waste of public funds and expressed fear that with the rate of waterlogged in the building, the government might have to demolish the structures.
“As you can see some of the structures have already collapsed, to tell you that others might not be far from collapsing,” said James.
The hospital was part of the government’s plan to construct hospitals in all the districts in the FCT, and if completed, would have been the only government hospital in the area. Unfortunately, the Utako residents’ blessing systematically became a curse, seeing the degrading environmental menace that the hospital has degenerated to.
Another resident, simply identified as Jafar, believes such a hospital in the area has the potential to make life easier for the people living in Utako. And it pained him seeing a project of such potential wasting away.
“I don’t know why the government is neglecting this project because it could make the lives of people easier. Maybe it is because top government officials don’t even get treated in the country. Now, the complex is a hiding den for criminals that terrorize residents at night.”
An abandoned project of this magnitude and importance does not only affect the physical and financial well-being of residents, but it also affects the economic well-being of the district. It also translates to more revenue for the government. But now, due to the oozing smell from the plaza, small and medium businesses are folding up due to the adverse effect it has on the sellers and buyers alike.
According to a report in 2016, about N2.222 billion of the N4.263 cost of the project had been paid, but work was suspended due to a ministerial committee’s evaluation.
Almost two decades later, people still wonder if the Utako District hospital will ever be completed.