“Ambulances” imported to rot saga: Matters arising from Joy FM’s interview with the importer

“Ambulances” imported to rot saga: Matters arising from Joy FM’s interview with the importer
Source: By Dr. Issaka Yakubu Akparibo, Aerospace Medicine Specialist | Email: akparibo@wright.edu
Date: 02-11-2018 Time: 08:11:20:am

I have followed Joy FM’s two-day interview series with the importer of the ambulances for the Ghana Government and as a concerned citizen with much interest for advocating for improved emergency health care services in the country, I am very much compelled to wade into this issue.

I currently live in Ghana and I have no control of when and where I may develop a medical emergency and will require the service of an ambulance just like any citizen, hence we need to make sure that a vehicle purported to be an ambulance is not just a van painted in ambulance colors but is a real ambulance.

There are two widely used ambulance standards in the world.  The European committee standardization standards (CEN 1789 )  and the American standards  (KKK 1822F). To the best of my knowledge, Ghana has no ambulance standard system just like many other countries in the world, hence we rely on these two tested standards for our ambulances.

My first concern has to do with standards. Do the imported ambulances meet the European committee standardization standards or the American standards? I saw some Mercedes Sprinter vans painted in ambulance colors on October 31, 2018, parked at the Ghana Airforce base in Accra whilst I was driving to a hangar in the area.

The importer alluded in your interview that he imported sprinter passenger vans and upfitted them into ambulances. There are companies with track records that do this work in partnership with the manufacturer to meet the standards. Mercedes Benz produces a chassis of the sprinter known as the Ambulance prep package which can be ordered and upfitted into an ambulance.

Did the importer order this package from Mercedes? He should compare the sprinter ambulances in Dubai and see if it’s the same as the once he imported to Ghana.

My second concern is that why should government award a contract on a specialized area that requires specialized expertise to a businessman just because he can raise the funding for the project without him showing his track record in the field.

This is a businessman who has no expertise whatsoever in ambulances, he gets the contract and does not hire experts in the field to advise him to execute the job just because he wants to make more profit at the expense of public safety.

Thirdly, why should the Attorney General of Ghana offer advise to the Ministry of Health without consulting the National ambulance service to know whether the ambulances imported met the standards or not, and if they did not meet the standards; the importer had reneged on his contractual agreement and hence government will not be liable to pay a judgment debt if the contract is abrogated?

I see this deal as another example of ‘a create, loot and share’ scheme by public officials that have no regard for the safety of the Ghanaian public.

Mr. Seth Tekpeh and Ms. Sherry Ayittey are heroes in my honest opinion for making sure that this fraudulent contract was not executed and the importer of these so-called ambulances and his cohorts should be held accountable. 

My recommendation is that Government should take its time to look into this deal and Joy FM should not exert unnecessary pressure on Government to release these death traps called ambulances into the public ambulance system.

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