By Dikachi Franklin, in Owerri
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partner, Seplat Petroleum, have begun the construction of a 200-bed infectious diseases medical centre for the South East zone. Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu, which is hosting the facility, is said to be the choice of NNPC and Seplat.
Governor Hope Uzodimma performed the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the medical centre.
“Our people should be rest assured that the much awaited permanent solution to infectious diseases is here in Imo State,” Governor Uzodimma said.
Uzodimma said the project when completed would save lives and make the people much healthier, adding further that the coronavirus is a dreadful infectious disease that has no known cure for now.
“Consequently, the lesson learnt was never to be caught napping again by any type of infectious disease curable or incurable, and one of such measures is the very programme of the construction of the 200 bed emergency and infectious diseases medical centre,” Uzodimma said.
The governor showed gratitude to President Buhari, who he said his initiative brought the Nigerian oil and gas sector, ably led by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in conjunction with SEPLAT, to agree to partner with the state to construct the befitting medical edifice in Imo.
“With the construction of the specialist hospital the threat of contagious disease such as coronavirus, AIDS, cholera, ebola, avian flu and even hepatitis can be effectively controlled and contained,” Uzodimma said.
Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum, said that the project is one of the three categories of the oil and gas industry’s intervention initiatives aimed at assisting states in the six geo-political zones to curb the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, which is anchored on delivery of medical infrastructure.
He explained that the other key thematic areas were the provision of medical consumables; and development of logistics and in-patient support system.
According to Sylva, aside NNPC, other participants in this initiative include international oil companies(IOCs) and indigenous producers, major oil marketers, crude oil and products traders, depot owners and petroleum products marketers.
ABC Orjiako, the chairman of Seplat Petroleum Development Company, said the project was an outcome of NNPC collaboration with Seplat to support Imo State towards the strengthening of its efforts in the management of the current pandemic and to be a centre for the treatment of all forms of infectious diseases.
He added that it was anticipated that the facility, when completed, would provide succour to the people of the state and its neighbours.
Orjiakor thanked Governor Uzodimma for providing Seplatconducive environment to operate in Imo State, and assured of continued support for the state through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) philosophy, which is hinged on proactively providing for the wellbeing of citizens of the host states/communities of operations.
MeleKyari, group managing director of NNPC, had earlier described Imo State as the most peaceful operating environment for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
He said that President Buhari had charged them to use the opportunity to project Imo State, having also promised to site a modular refinery in the state soon.