$3M Covid-19 ambulances grounded with mechanical problems

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By Omar Bah

At least six out of the ten ambulances purchased by the Ministry of Health from a Turkish company as part of  government’s Covid-19 response have been grounded due to mechanical problems.

According to reliable sources at the Ministry of Health, the ambulances were grounded a few weeks ago and are currently under repair at the Riders For Health who are responsible for the maintenance of the ministry’s vehicles. “The ambulances are very sensitive and need proper care to be able to last long in climates like ours,” our source said.

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When contacted for comments, Omar Jah, a mechanical engineer at Riders For Health, confirmed to The Standard yesterday that the ambulances are undergoing repair. “We have ordered the spare parts from Turkey and we are hopeful that we will be able to repair them,” he said. Jah said one of the ambulances has engine problems while the rest have minor mechanical issues.

“The ambulances’ specification is definitely meant for Europe so the climate here will have effects on them. However, we will do our best to make sure they are back on the street,” he said.

The amount the ministry claims to have purchased the ambulances had also sparked controversy which prompted an investigation by  online investigative journal Malagen.

According to Malagen, when they contacted Das Ambulans in Turkey – the manufacturers of the ambulances and requested for quotation for the Ford Transit, ICU ambulances— the same types bought by the Ministry and the company quoted a price of €58, 000 (approx. $68,975) which is $20,775 less than the price reportedly expended by the ministry on one Ford Transit ICU.

When contacted for comments, the director of health services, Dr Mustapha Bittaye, tensely said: “I don’t have that information yet but I can tell you my vehicle has been there for the past one month. So, I don’t know who gives you that information. But yeah, if you confirm that they are there because they are grounded then that’s fine.”