Speculation grows over delayed opening of mortuary

Kwale County government has come under sharp criticism for failing to open Kwale Sub-county Hospital mortuary which was completed at a cost of S2.5million, four years ago.

A cross-section of residents interviewed took issue with the government for spending tax-payer’s money on a project they described as a white elephant.

There has been speculation over the delay with some people claiming this may be a deliberate move to appease the superstitious who are scared of being associated with the dead.

Indeed, some locals had opposed construction of the project from the very beginning amidst claims morgues could herald a bad omen and bring misfortunes including deaths.

This is evidenced by the kind of hostility that met the proposed construction of a multi-million morgue and crematorium at Ukunda by a private developer, with locals arguing that the project does not conform to their cultural and religious beliefs.

Plans to have the Kwale morgue commissioned by Governor Salim Mvurya were cancelled at the eleventh hour without explanation three years back.

The morgue has been overgrown with bush which was cleared last month, rekindling hopes that it was finally going to be opened but so far nothing has happened.

Instead, an entrance to the unutilized facility was fenced off again dimming hopes about its future.

Efforts to get a comment about the fate of the project were fruitless as officials in health department snubbed our inquiries.

Contacted, Health Executive Dr. Francis Gwama refused to comment and instead referred us to the hospital administrator who was out of office.

This is an issue I cannot comment on for now as it is beyond the county executive level. Go to the hospital administration for full information, he said curtly.

Residents said opening of the facility was long overdue noting that doing so would decongest the only operational mortuary at Msambweni Referral Hospital.

Fulgence Ndegwa, a newspaper vendor in Kwale town, said the project should be commissioned without any further delay to serve its intended purpose. The opening should be speeded up if the facility is to serve its purpose, he said.

Ndegwa also dismissed claims that the project could have been abandoned because the Muslims who were predominant in the region do not preserve their bodies in mortuaries.

We have mortuaries in Muslim populated areas like Msambweni and even Mombasa so this argument does not hold any water, he added.

Another resident, Hamisi Maarifa, said it was unclear as to why the mortuary has been lying idle blaming it on poor planning and asked the County government to have its priorities right.

Source: Kenya News Agency