MPs visit Pantang Hospital

Committee members studying the site plan of the Pantang Hospital

Committee members studying the site plan of the Pantang Hospital

The select committees on Lands, Forestry and Health of Parliament have visited the troubled Pantang Hospital here in Accra, to have first-hand information about developments at the facility.

It follows a sit down strike embarked upon by staff of the hospital last week over concerns that their lands were being encroached upon by private developers.

Touring the facility yesterday, the leadership of the joint committees directed that construction works on the hospital’s lands seized with immediate effect.

At the time of the visit, The Ghanaian Times observed that while some residential and commercial structures were undergoing finishing touches in readiness of occupation, others were springing up.

Not even the presence of the team protected by armed policemen, deterred the private developers until an order was given by the leadership of the committees.

The buffer zone of the hospital, stretching over 700 metres along the main road, appeared to be under siege from the ‘illegal’ occupants and other temporary structures that were developing into unauthorised residence.

Briefing the committee members before the familiarisation tour of the facility, the Administrator of the Hospital, Dr Frank Bening, said “the hospital is faced with many chronic challenges” of which funding is the underlining factor.

According to Dr Bening, all attempts to get successive governments respond to their concerns have fallen on deaf ears and wondered why mental health care plays a second fiddle to mainstream health care even though mental health care patients are the more vulnerable of the two.

He said the lack of funding has led to the hospital being understaffed across all areas of administration, deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate logistics, with security threat among others because the facility was indebted to its suppliers to the tune of over GH¢3.5 million.

Dr Bening said until something was done about the sprawling private development of their land and the financial difficulties the facility is faced with, a time may come where the hospital cannot live up to its mandate.

He expressed shock at a court ruling two weeks ago that a section of the 344 acres Pantang Hospital land developed in 1967 belonged to a private developer and called on the committee to intervene before the hospital lost its entire space to private developers by the courts.

Briefing the media after the visit, the chairman of the Lands and Forestry Committee, Johnson Kwaku Adu, said the move was to appreciate the challenges the hospital was faced with.

He said after assessing the challenges, parliament were going to invite all stakeholders in land administration to a roundtable to find a solution to the encroachments that has hit the facility.

According to him, the next line of action would be determined after the committee has vetted the particulars of the hospital and private developers to establish who really owns the land in order to find a permanent solution to the matter.

“We know we have to get the problem solved so that the hospital can exist and work very hard for the state,” he said.

On the court ruling, Mr Adu, Ahafo Ano South East MP, said it was important documents pertaining to the land were thoroughly vetted to understand the circumstances under which the judgement was given the way it went in order to retrieve the land for the hospital if possible.

By Julius Yao Petetsi 

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