By Samuel Oyadongha
The recent commissioning of the Amatu cottage hospital could best be described as a Christmas gift not only to the people of the Dodo River Regional Development Committee but the entire communities on the coastal stretch of Ekeremor Council Area in Bayelsa West Senatorial District.
Not many had believed the 45-bed cottage hospital project, regarded as one of the biggest community-driven health facilities in the Niger-Delta would be completed given the sharp rise in the number of abandoned projects especially in the rural enclave where there is hardly proper supervision and monitoring of projects.
However, the traumatized people of the Dodo River Regional Development Committee on the Atlantic fringe had cause to celebrate late last December when the cottage hospital was officially unveiled and handed over by the American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited as part of its corporate social responsibility to its host communities.
The euphoria that greeted the commissioning ceremony was indescribable as people came from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the structure which they not only midwifed but ensured its protection until its completion.
Prior to the unveiling of the health facility, indigenes of Dodo River Regional Development Committee made of Amatu I & II, Bilabiri 1 and Bilabiri II and its environs have had to travel several miles to cities in neigbouring Warri, Delta State and Yenagoa the Bayelsa State capital, to obtain healthcare leading to avoidable deaths.
These are communities which can only be accessed by water and getting medical attention in the cities is a long and tortuous trip by river craft.
The 45-bed capacity twin cottage hospital building which came into being as a result of the Global Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the Dodo River communities and Chevron Nigeria Limited has male, female, children and emergency wards, consulting rooms, offices, laboratory, theatre, pharmacy, reception, toilets, bath- rooms; perimeter fencing and a gate house.
It also has a morgue building, generator houses, doctors and nurses’ quarters as well as a water project to serve the hospital.
Speaking at the commissioning of the health facility, an elated Bayelsa State Commissioner for Energy, Hon. Maxwell Oko noted that the hospital would help alleviate the health needs of the people.
Hon. Oko who was represented by a director in his ministry, Engr. Christmas James Brass, said the implementation of the project is a testimony of the company’s commitment to healthcare development and its responsiveness to the social development of people and communities around its operational areas.
The commissioner who expressed delight over the demonstration of good corporate social responsibility by the company assured of the government’s commitment to the staff and in running of the hospital once the required equipment and furniture were put in place.
Earlier in his address, Berry Negresse, chairman, Dodo River Regional Development Committee under the GMOU remarked that the GMOU with the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture was producing good results in their communities.
He noted that the hospital project was the “biggest community-driven cottage hospital of its kind in the Niger-Delta region and by extension, in the whole of Nigeria.”
Berry noted that the GMOU was initially greeted with opposition by some people who were skeptical over the workability of the new Community Engagement concept but expressed happiness that the model has proved to be effective in enhancing the capacity of the local people to handle projects such as the cottage hospital.
“If there is any one out there who still doubts the workability of the GMOU, who still wonders if the GMOU can deliver in our time, today’s commissioning is an answer to your questions,” Berry declared.
He, however, noted with sadness the absence of both the state and federal governments in the council area saying but for the intervention of the company in the few development so far recorded, these would not have been possible.