What you need to know:
- Mr Tonny Abet, a health reporter was arrested Thursday afternoon during a site visit to the multibillion hospital whose construction has been a subject of public debate since 2019 when the project was handed over to Italian investor, Enrica Pinetti’s firm, Finasi/Roko Construction Ltd.
Detectives at Lubowa Police Station on Entebbe Road have detained Nation Media Group (NMG)- Uganda journalist who was following up on a story about the International Specialised Hospital, Lubowa project.
Mr Tonny Abet, a health reporter at Daily Monitor, a subsidiary of NMG-U was arrested Thursday afternoon as he visited the construction site for the multibillion hospital project.
Speaking to this publication at the police station where he spent a night, Mr Abet said he found security personnel manning the construction site which has been a subject of public debate since 2019 when the project was handed over to Italian investor, Enrica Pinetti’s firm, Finasi/Roko Construction Ltd.
He was referred to the project manager for clearance but upon identifying himself, the manager ordered for his arrest.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango confirmed the arrest but said he was yet to establish the charges against the journalist.
In 2019, Parliament approved $379 million (about Shs1.4 triillion at the time) for the construction of the 264 bed capacity hospital in Lubowa, along Kampala-Entebbe highway.
Finasi/Roko Construction Ltd took over the project site at Lubowa on June 10, 2019.
In March 2023, the Ministry of Health tabled a Shs2.7 billion supplementary budget intended to further finance the hospital construction in the National Budget for Financial Year 2023/2024.
Requests tabled by the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, showed that the money would be spent on the supervision of the works at the construction site.
Some members of the budget committee demanded justification for the Lubowa hospital project which they said had stalled.
“I really wonder what the Shs2.7 billion is going to be used for if the activity that has come is just supervision. Someone would wonder how much supervision will go on when there isn’t anything there as construction,” the Mubende Woman MP, Ms Hope Grania Nakazibwe, said during the March 2023 committee sitting.
The committee chairperson, Dr Charles Ayume, concurred with the lawmakers, saying no funds would be approved for the Lubowa project.
Dr Ayume, also the Koboko Municipality MP, added: “I think the issue of Lubowa is brain-dead, we just have to plug off the life support and we escort it to the mortuary in my opinion as the chairperson of the committee.”