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Sat, Dec

Health Minister wants EOCO to investigate payment for 30 ambulances

Mr Agyeman-Manu (left) inspecting facilities in an ambulance at Burma Camp. With him are Prof. Ahmed Zakaria, CEO of the Ghana Ambulance Service (in suit) and Mr George Ashie, Operation consultant, Ghana Ambulance Service. Pictures: EBOW HANSON

The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, says the Ministry of Health has discovered that state funds were used to illegally pay for the 30 ambulances that were rejected by the National Ambulance Service ( NAS).

Mr Agyeman-Manu said he was, therefore, referring the matter to the national security and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for further investigations in order to retrieve the said amount, establish who made the payments and to whom it was made.

The minister announced his discovery and intention when he addressed journalists in Accra when he paid unannounced visits to some health facilities in Accra and Tema to familiarise himself with their work and motivate them.

He visited the Tema and La General hospitals, the old and new central medical stores and Burma Camp to inspect the ambulances.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the search indicated that the ambulances were paid for through the Bank of Ghana instead of the Ministry of Finance but all attempts to uncover who made the payment and to whom it was made had proved futile, hence his decision to involve the national security.

The 30 ambulances, which formed part of 200 ambulances that were to be procured by the Ministry of Health to boost healthcare delivery under a contract, cost 2.4 million euros and was rejected because they did not meet specifications.

Each of the ambulances cost 79,000 euros.

Supplier has not received the payment

Mr Agyeman-Manu said although payment had been made, the supplier, Big Sea, said the payment was not made to him, neither had the company received any payment for the ambulances.

The Daily Graphic observed that the ambulances were improvised. They were sprinter buses fitted with kitchen panels which did not have locks to keep them in place from falling on patients on the ambulance.

The rejected but illegally-paid-for ambulances are currently parked at the Airforce base.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the NAS, Professor Ahmed N. Zakariah, said the service, contrary to due purchasing processes, was not included in the purchasing process.

“It was only allowed to do a post inspection and that was when we discovered that they were improvised and, therefore, would not give value for the cost or could serve their purpose effectively so were rejected,” he said.

Central medical stores

At the Central Medical stores, Mr Agyeman-Manu said the report on the fire incident that destroyed the facility recommended a forensic report and, therefore, the auditor general was facilitating that to provide evidence to prove it was arson in court.

However, he said the government was looking for money and partners to rebuild the facility as the improvised rented one had limited space to deliver efficiently the mandate of a central medical store.

Tema General Hospital

At the Tema General Hospital, the Medical Director, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, who conducted the minister around the facility, appealed to the government to give the hospital a face- lift.

He also appealed to the government to support the management of the hospital to complete abandoned projects such as the maternity block and the mortuary to boost its operations.

Writer’s email