Mahama administration rejected imported ambulance - Health Minister

BY: Sebastian Syme
The rejected ambulances
The rejected ambulances

The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, says 30 ambulances imported into the country to improve ambulance service but have been wasting away at the Air Force Base at the Burma Camp in Accra were rejected by the Mahama administration.

He said the ambulances were rejected on the basis of the fact that they were not fit for purpose.

However, the immediate past Minister of Health, Mr Alex Segbefia, has disagreed, arguing that the Akufo-Addo administration was simply refusing to clear the accessories at the Tema Port to have them fixed in the ambulances so that they could make them fit for purpose.

The ambulances, purchased at a cost of about 3.5 million euros, formed part of the first batch of 200 buses which were expected to be procured in 2011 to improve ambulance services.

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However, after inspecting the vehicles when they arrived, they were declared unfit for purpose, since they did not come with the necessary equipment and accessories fitted to enable them to function.

Ministers in tango

In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, Mr Segbefia, in debunking the assertion, said the equipment that should be fitted in the ambulances to make them fit for purpose had been left uncleared at the port and wondered on what basis the current health minister came to the conclusion that the vehicles were not fit to be operated as ambulances.

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But Mr Agyeman-Manu refuted those claims, saying that the former Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Aryeetey, rejected the ambulances when they were brought into the country on account of the fact that the specifications required for the ambulances were not what were supplied.

“I have been there to see them for myself. The fittings have no lockers and the materials in them are substandard. How can you call these ambulances?”, the minister questioned.

Related: EOCO to investigate payment for 30 ambulances

He said the matter was currently under investigations at the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and their findings would establish the veracity of the matter.

Ghana risks paying judgement debt if the contract with the Dubai-based supplier, Big Sea Company Limited, is abrogated because the 30 ambulances have already been paid for.

National Ambulance Service

The Head of Operations of NAS, Mr Foster Ansong-Bridjan, told the Daily Graphic that the service, after realizing the defects in the ambulances, submitted a report to the then government to correct them before the service could take delivery of the buses, but that could not be done.

After the change of government, he said, the Ministry of Health (MoH), after inspecting the ambulances, uncovered some procurement breaches, which were referred to the EOCO for investigations.

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“We were at that stage when a change of government was effected. The new government took over and we still expect it to rectify the anomalies with the ambulances before we can take delivery of them,” he stated.

No ambulances

The inadequate number of ambulances in service became an issue and gained currency following the sudden death of the immediate past