Ato Forson
Ato Forson

Ato Forson trial: Even tricycles can be converted into ambulance — Accused

The second accused person in the ambulance trial has told the High Court that any vehicle at all, including tricycles, popularly known as “Aboboyaa”, can be converted into an ambulance. 

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Richard Jakpa, who was under the cross-examination of counsel for the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Dr Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba, explained that ambulances were not like ordinary vehicles manufactured and showcased for anyone to just go and purchase, adding that rather, vehicle were converted to ambulances based on specifications.  

“Manufactures of vehicles, for instance, Mercedes are not specialists in the manufacturing of ambulances. “Now there are other companies that are specialised in the conversion of all sorts of vehicles already manufactured into ambulances. Those companies have ISO certifications for such work,” he told the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe. 

Specifications

Explaining further, he said Big Sea, the company accused by the prosecution of having supplied “unfit” ambulances to the government, was an internationally certified ambulance converter.

He emphasised that both the Government of Ghana (GoG) and Bis Sea agreed on specifications Mr Jakpa further explained that how the word “Ambulance” should be written on the vehicle, which the prosecution had challenged, was not part of the contract agreement. 

He further told the court that because a pre-shipment inspection was not done by the government when the first 10 ambulances arrived at the port and the bill of lading duly submitted to the Ministry of Health, they again did not proceed to the port to protect the ambulances.

“The accessories of the first 10 ambulances were stolen and apart from the accessories being stolen, the inner compartment was vandalised at the port,” he said. The case has been adjourned to May 23, this year. 

Not guilty

Mr Jakpa and the Minority Leader have been accused of causing a financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase 200 ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016.

They have pleaded not guilty to counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.

Per the Attorney-General’ (A-G’s) facts accompanying the charge sheet, in 2009, while delivering the State of the Nation Address, the then President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, indicated that new ambulances would be purchased to expand the operations of the National Ambulance Service.

Jakpa, who is a local representative of Big Sea General Trading Limited, a company based in Dubai, subsequently approached the Ministry of Health with a proposal that he had arranged for finance from Stanbic Bank for the supply of 200 ambulances to the government.

Writer’s E-mail: [email protected]

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