The second batch of ambulances, numbering 124, out of the 275 ambulances procured by the government under its One-constituency, One-ambulance project, arrived at the Tema Port last Tuesday, bringing to 210 the number of ambulances delivered on the order, the Daily Graphic has gathered.
The ambulances, purchased from Turkey, arrived in Ghana on board the MV Jasper Arrow last Tuesday evening, a source at the port told the Daily Graphic.
A visit to Berth Six where the ambulances were discharged by the vessel saw a number of them, which had the inscription ‘Constituency Ambulance, Funded by the Ministry of Special Development Initiative’ on them, assembled and being transported to the Safebond Car Terminal, near the Tema Port, for clearance procedure.
At the time of the visit about 4:30 p.m. last Wednesday, clearance procedure for 40 of the vehicles had been completed, while the others were being worked on.
Port officials would, however, not comment on the developments.
The ambulances became a subject of controversy following the government’s refusal to distribute the first batch that arrived in the country in September 2019, insisting that the distribution would be done on receipt of the rest, a decision some members of the public criticised as wrong, considering the vulnerabilities within the health delivery process and emergency response.
A recent announcement by the Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Ms Mavis Hawa Koomson, which pegged distribution timelines to January 2020, was received with mixed feelings, with a United Kingdom-based, pharmacist and Fellow of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Mr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, questioning the rationale behind the idea of importing the vehicles and grounding them, judging from what he described as the significant disparity in the spread of vital health human resource across the country.
He was of the view that whereas it was laudable for the government to deliver on its manifesto promise by importing the ambulances to augment the fleet of the National Ambulance Service and ensure that each constituency had access to an ambulance in times of emergency, the emergency vehicles ought to be operationalised to ensure that the citizenry benefited from the health capital investment and not be bound by such decisions.
Ms Koomson told the Daily Graphic yesterday that officials of the Silver Star Auto Limited were expected to conduct a pre-delivery inspection on the vehicles, after which they would be transported to the forecourt of Parliament House to await the arrival of the additional 65 in January 2020.
The pre-delivery inspection, she said, was to ensure that consumable accessories that came with the vehicles were in good condition and could function appropriately when deployed for use in the constituencies.
“As reiterated by the President at a recent media engagement, the entire fleet will be distributed to all the constituencies after we have taken delivery of the total number of 275 ordered,” she emphasised.
The ambulances, which she said had a five-year lifespan, would be fitted with tracking devices linked to a control centre to monitor their activities as part of measures to ensure that they went beyond the given lifespan.
Ms Koomson, who said she felt ‘relieved’ by the arrival of the 124 ambulances, described their procurement as unprecedented in the history of Ghana and lauded the President for sticking to his guns on the January 2020 distribution timelines