IT was a day of anger and frustration when National Hospital’s main entrance was sealed off by the taskforce of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) over environmental debt owed the board by the hospital.
The drama over the shutting of the hospital’s main entrance gate by the board took the hospital’s management, patients, motorists and other passers-by by surprise.
Abuja Xtra observed that while the commotion was going on at the gate as the Board arrived to shut down the hospital using its taskforce with retinue of security personnel, the hospital, which was caught unawares, quickly opened its alternative gate for patients and other emergencies, unknown to the task team.
Speaking exclusively with Abuja Xtra over the incident, spokesperson of the hospital, Dr. Tayo Haastrup, said management of the National Hospital viewed the action of AEPB as an embarrassment, unheard-of, painful and disturbing.
He said that the board only came to embarrass the facility, its management, patients and other passers-by with its action.
Haastrup said the delay in making the payment was not the fault of the hospital as efforts to make transfers to the board through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) were unsuccessful as it did appear the board was still using commercial banks for its operations, contrary to the order to revert to the TSA.
The spokesman admitted that the hospital had the accumulated sum to pay to the board, but noted that when the initial effort to transfer the money on TSA platform failed, it quickly dispatched a team which went to the board to make explanations and was given an alternative account which, again, failed to accept TSA transfers.
According to him, the hospital had about N11 million as monthly electricity bill as well as its water bills, yet was not owing the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and the FCT Water Board and wondered why it could be assumed that it did not want to offset its environmental bills.
He said, “Sure, we owed, but we made attempts to transfer the money to them because we are already on TSA platform, but because it seemed they are not on TSA, it did not go through
“It is embarrassing that AEPB can come and lock up our gate. Assuming we have emergencies and ambulances bringing in patients, imagine what they would have encountered?
We had to open an alternative gate for people to come in because we cannot afford not to attend to patients
“I think that they are still using commercial banks for their operations and that is why the thing was not going through. If they are using TSA, we won’t be having this problem and if you must seal up any institution over debt, is it an institution of this nature, a National Hospital?
“We are working now. They just disturbed our work. We know the implications of locking up the gate of the hospital when we have emergencies and ambulance cases,” he said.