BY Phyllis Mbanje
AUTHORITIES at Bindura Provincial Hospital have averted a potential crisis after striking a deal with Puma Service Station to access generator fuel after operations had grounded due to non-availability of power in the wake of massive load-shedding.
An SOS was sent out from the hospital, detailing how the power cut had literally stopped operations at the provincial hospital catering for the whole of Mashonaland Central province.
Of concern was the life support system in the neonatal ward for pre-term babies which needs uninterupted power to function. The distress message went viral on various social media platforms, particularly Twitter and WhatsApp over the weekend.
“As a result of load-shedding, the situation at Bindura Hospital is unbearable. All operations cannot be done because of non-availability of power. The life support system in neonatal ward for pre-term babies is dependent upon power which is not there,” part of the message whose author is not known, but likely from the hospital, read.
“Yesterday, I pleaded with Puma Service Station here in Bindura for us to buy diesel for our generators only to be told by the manager that the diesel was for farmers.
“It is sad that those that are supposed to assist us have not considered the hospital as an essential service provider, yet we all know we cannot experiment with human life.”
There was also an appeal to “those that make decisions” to prioritise Bindura Hospital. “It pains us to watch helplessly someone losing life, yet as key stakeholders, they have the potential to avoid that. I hope this plea will get to those that can assist,” the heart-wrenching text read.
Contacted for comment Mashonaland Central provincial medical director Clemence Tshuma referred questions to the provincial administrator Cosmas Chiringa, who admitted that the text was authentic and issues raised were true.
“I received a similar text over the weekend. What happened is that we were allocated fuel which was not enough, but we have since resolved the matter with Puma,” he said. Chiringa said they held a marathon meeting yesterday with Puma and hospital management and amicably resolved the matter.
“I am very happy to say that the meeting with hospital management and Puma officials was fruitful,” he said.
Chiringa, however insisted that Puma would still be allowed to run as a business and government was aware of this and would respect it as such with no interference. “I am also pleased to announce that following the SOS, well-wishers are also coming on board to assist and already we have been offered 500 litres of diesel to be used at the hospital by a local company,” he said.
Power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company instituted tight austerity measures in a bid to avert a serious power crisis.
In a statement which was issued alongside the load-shedding timetable, the company said it was experiencing increased power shortfalls due to lower water levels at Kariba Power Station as well as reduced power generation at Hwange Power Station.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country provincial hospitals seem to be experiencing some challenges while central facilities like Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospital had no incidences. Parirenyatwa as well said they had no issues with power so far.
However, at Marondera Provincial Hospital, they are experiencing massive power cuts and officials at the facility said they were now relying on back-up power supply in the form of a generators.
Chitungwiza Central Hospital said they were experiencing power cuts despite promises that they would be exempted from load-shedding.
“We have a back-up generator, but there are no guarantees of getting steady supply of diesel,” Chitungwiza Hospital spokesperson Audrey Tasaranarwo said.