UCH: Patients, staff groan as power outage persists over accumulated debt

Patients and their relatives, as well as staff of University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan are currently groaning over the total power outage in the hospital.

The tertiary health institution is currently experiencing total blackout as a result of the disconnection of the hospital from the national grid by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC).

It could be recalled that the IBEDC on Tuesday, 19th March, 2024, cut off power supply to the hospital over accumulated debt.

IBEDC said the supply was cut off due to over N400 million accumulated debt by the hospital.

However, the hospital management said its debt was N241 million.

It was gathered that the disconnection of the hospital from the national grid is negatively affecting major activities.

Most of the equipment and facilities that require electricity are not being used as a result of the power outage.

Most of the services that require electricity such as X-ray, blood tests, urine tests and other essential services are being referred to facilities outside the hospital.

Water supply has been disrupted, with patients and their relatives resorting to sachet water.

Those who could not buy sachet water are tempted to bring water from their houses.

Our members now use torchlights to attend to patients – JAC

Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is the umbrella body of all the unions in the hospital has said that its members now use torchlights to attend to patients in the hospital.

JAC made this declaration during a congress attended by staff of the hospital on Wednesday.

The congress was attended by members of Non-academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals Research Institutions and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAN) and Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN).

JAC Chairman, Comrade Oludayo Olabampe, while speaking with DAILY POST shortly after the congress, noted that staff of the hospital have been working in terrible conditions since the power supply was cut off.

He added that workers in the hospital have been using torchlights to attend to patients since the power supply was cut off.

He added that the workers will not be able to perform their duties as expected unless the power supply is restored.

Olabampe appealed to the federal government, governor Seyi Makinde and other stakeholders to come to the aid of the hospital.

“The congress is about briefing our members on the actions we have taken on their behalf to address their welfare.

“Since Tuesday last week, we have been experiencing a total power outage simply because the IBEDC cut our light; they said UCH is owing N495m debt. And they said we must settle a substantial amount before the power can be restored.

“Since that happened, our members have been going through a lot of unbearable conditions to perform their duties.

“We cannot allow this to continue. So, we felt we must do something to address it. We must let Nigerians know what is happening to UCH.

“Look at this hospital that serves the whole Nigeria. If this is happening to UCH, that means it is happening to all Nigerians.

“We want to say that if you come to UCH now, you may not get the best of care because of the power outage. UCH has been in darkness and nothing is working.

“We are calling on Nigerians to come to our rescue.

“Our members are languishing, they are working as live slaves. Imagine a situation when you work in a hospital without light. We cannot continue to work in darkness. We don’t want to lose any member.

“Some of our members are exposed to high risks, we cannot pump water, we are using torchlights to work. So, we want to reduce the hazard,” he stated.

IBEDC insisted on immediate payment of N250m – UCH

Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Funmi Adetuyibi when contacted confirmed that the power supply to the hospital has been cut off by the electricity distribution company.

Adetuyibi, in a statement said that the hospital is making efforts to settle the outstanding debt.

She added that the electricity distribution company insisted that the hospital should immediately pay N250 million before the power could be restored.

She added that the outstanding bill was N241 million and not over N400 million as claimed by the electricity distribution company.

She said, “While we can say that we have outstanding bills to settle with the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), the hospital management has left no stone unturned in our proactive approach in making our teeming patients have access to adequate medical care at all times.

“It is not true that the hospital has an accumulated bill of N495m over the last three years.

“The outstanding bill as at the assumption of office was 241 million Naira and the payment plan for defraying the outstanding and payment of current bills was maintained until the tariff was arbitrarily increased.

“On the current disconnection of power supply to the hospital, this management has had several meetings with the IBEDC management.

“A payment plan on how to offset the backlog of the outstanding debt has been forwarded to both the consultant of IBEDC and the Regional Head of IBEDC.

“This payment plan was rejected by IBEDC. They insisted on immediate payment of 250 million Naira.

“To put on record, the hospital has never spent 160 million Naira on diesel on a monthly basis. We spend an average of 17 million per month on diesel depending on power supply from IBEDC.

“Also, we have not experienced a 24 hour power supply in the hospital. The Internal Audit department of the hospital has a daily record of the electricity supplied to the hospital by IBEDC.

“The Hospital has 45 generators. Out of these 45 generators, some are due for servicing while some are due for replacement,” she revealed.

We disconnected UCH owing to over N400m debt – IBEDC

On its part, IBEDC said that it took the decision to disconnect UCH owing to over N400 million debt.

The electricity distribution company made this declaration via a statement issued by Johnson Tinuoye, Chief Key Accounts Officer of IBEDC.

The statement was made available on Wednesday evening.

Tinuoye insisted that the electricity distribution company was compelled to cut off the power supply to the hospital due to over N400 million debt.

According to him, “The Management of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) has been compelled to disconnect the supply to the University of Ibadan College Hospital (UCH) due to an outstanding debt exceeding 400 million Naira.

“This drastic measure comes after exhaustive attempts to engage with the hospital’s management regarding the substantial overdue balance, which has persisted for over six years.

“Despite numerous written correspondences and multiple meetings, UCH management has displayed an uncooperative attitude toward addressing the outstanding debt.

“IBEDC’s fiduciary responsibility to its stakeholders and market operators necessitates timely and complete remittances, especially considering the liquidity crisis facing DISCOs.

“Unpaid electricity bills hinder DISCOs’ ability to fulfil obligations to GENCOs and purchase gas for power generation, contributing to the nationwide issue of low power supply.”

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