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Oparanya's cabinet approves transfer of stalled Sh8b hospital to State

Governor Wycliffe Oparanya speaks during the commissioning of Butere Level Four Hospital, January 11, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Governor Wycliffe Oparanya's cabinet has approved the transfer process of the stalled Sh8 billion Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital to the national government.

According to the cabinet minutes seen by The Standard, all County Executive Committee Members (CECs) agreed that the county should hand over the facility to the national government for completion and equipping.

“During the third executive meeting held on February 1, 2022, the county cabinet deliberated on the matter and all agreed on the issue of transferring the stalled level six referral hospital to the national government for completion, equipping and operationalization,” reads the cabinet resolution.

Health CEC Collins Matemba said the cabinet held a follow-up meeting on Tuesday, which resolved the handover process should involve residents and the local assembly.

“This is because the hospital is public property therefore residents have to be involved through public participation before the County Assembly approves the handover process next week,” said Dr Matemba.

He said it was impossible for the county to complete and equip the 750-bed capacity facility with the current erratic disbursement of devolved funds from the Treasury.

Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital. [Benard Lusigi, Standard]

“To complete the facility, we need some Sh13 billion yet we get about Sh15 billion annually to be spread in every sector of our devolved economy. The last time we received money was in November, last year,” said Matemba.

The health chief said the only way the mega project can be completed is by handing it over to the national government, stating the project had three phases with the first phase 92 per cent complete.

The first phase cost Sh4.5 billion, with Sh2.5 billion going to construction and Sh2 billion for equipping.

“Our plan was to complete phase one and equip it, then as it starts operating we continue with completion of the remaining phases, but with the reality and challenges it is difficult,” said Matemba.

He confessed that hiring and paying medical specialists was also a problem, terming the process "expensive for the county".

He nonetheless maintained Oparanya had achieved the objective of having a level six hospital in Western and bringing critical services closer to the people.

Matemba said county residents used to travel to Eldoret, Nairobi or even abroad to get services for complicated medical cases.

Early this year, Oparanya initiated the transfer process of the stalled project to the national government, citing delays in the disbursement of funds from the Treasury.

Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

He said the completion of the hospital will guarantee quality healthcare services and contribute towards economic development in the county and beyond.

“We have agreed that a big percentage of residents will be part of the Board of Management and others will be hired as medics so that they continue owning the idea they started, representing the interests of the locals, and ensure the aim of the project is accomplished,” said Oparanya.

The multi-billion health project was one of the Oparanya mega projects that were launched in 2016 and its construction started in 2017. The hospital was to serve over five million residents from Kakamega and neighbouring counties of Kisumu, Bungoma, Busia, Nandi, Siaya, Vihiga and Uasin Gishu as well as those from Uganda.