Bureaucratic red tape and the indifferent attitude displayed by Sri Lankan officials have delayed the proposed construction of a fully equipped children's hospital in Kalutara, southern Sri Lanka.
Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka, Chief Executive of the Children's Hospital Tsunami Appeal Fund (CHTAF) today (Sept 16) blamed the "bureaucratic red tape" for the delay in constructing the estimated to cost Rs 900 million (US$1 = 101.45 Rupee).
She said the delays caused by official indifference had resulted in the donors in the United Kingdom withdrawing their pledges amounting to 827,000 sterling pounds (One sterling pound = 183.50 Rupees).
Dr Wickramanayaka also lambasted some of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), calling them corrupt.
She claimed the NGOs had collected huge sums of money on the pretext of constructing houses for the tsunami displaced and their welfare but had failed to account for the money.
"They have a thousand and one excuses for not doing the work. The tsumami has now become a "big money making operation" she added.
"Their actions have made it difficult for genuine charities to raise funds for a worthy cause and we get tarred with the same brush," said Gary Cutter, Trustee of the Fund.
Dr Wickramanayaka said: "We should have commenced work on phase one of the 300-bed hospital in June and completed it before the first anniversary of the tsunami.
"Now the project will be entirely handled by the private sector and I am optimistic that it will get underway in six to eight weeks time."
Asked whether they were happy with the progress so far she said she would like things to move faster.
Once completed, this hospital will be the only one of its kind built in a tsunami stricken country, she said.
She added that round 20,000 children in the country perished due to the tidal wave. In some villages there are hardly any children left after the tsunami.
She appealed to the public and the business sector to donate whatever possible to make this cause a success and added that they could contribute not only in cash, but also in kind with material needed for construction, medical equipment bricks and cement.
The hospital will be built on a three acre block of land belonging to the Kalutara Hospital in Nagoda in Southern Sri Lanka and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Health Ministry and the CHTAF for the purpose. Once completed, the hospital will be handed over to the government.
The required amount for the completion of the phase one of the project will be around 150,000 to 200,000 sterling pounds and the hospital with medical, surgical and also counselling services will serve to a wider community without any religious, ethnic class barriers and political interference, she said.
She added that rehabilitation of children who were victims of the tsunami and the civil war will also be carried out.