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General News of Thursday, 14 September 2017


EOCO probes $2.4m ‘stinky’ ambulance deal

The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) has been tasked to investigate the purchase of some 30 ambulances estimated at $2.4 million, under President John Dramani Mahama’s administration.

The ministry of health referred the supposedly dubious deal to EOCO for investigation following revelations that there are no documents covering the transaction.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the ambulances, upon arrival in the country, were rejected because they were not fit for the purpose for which they were purchased.

According to reports, the undocumented purchase of 30 out of 200 ambulances procured by the ministry of health and arrived in the country in 2016, did not meet specifications, compelling the ministry to suspend their purchase and distribution to government hospitals and the national Ambulance Service.

The current Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, told the media that during the transition period, it was noted that the ambulances were supplied but the ministry did not accept them because the specifications fell short of expectation.

The ambulances, which he described as “sprinter buses fitted with kitchen panels,” are currently parked at the military naval base.

He told journalists that he was shocked at the sight of the vehicles and how a decision was made by a public officer to pay for vehicles like those ones.

He did not immediately know the circumstances under which the substandard ambulances were paid for, but said the health ministry had initially rejected them.

“During the transition, the report we had was that the suppliers supplied, they never accepted the vehicles and so we never paid them and we don’t owe them,” he said.

But a few months later, the ministry, he claimed, had paid for the ambulances.

“So I wrote to the ministry of finance and they said that they had paid for the ministry of health, but the ministry of health’s installation doesn’t show any payment and we kept on getting information that the ambulances had been paid for,” Mr. Agyemang Manu disclosed.

The person who was awarded the contract to supply the ambulances had also not received any payment for the ambulances in question, according to Mr. Agyemang Manu.

But months later, he said his outfit started getting intelligence information that the same vehicles had been paid for.

“I wrote to the minister of finance and they said they had paid for ministry of health,” he said, adding that the ministry of health had no documentation to confirm any such payment.

Interestingly, the minister said an employee of Big Sea – the company that supplied the ambulances – did not even know that the vehicles had been paid for.

Mr. Agyemang Manu said the vehicles were not paid for by any loan arrangement and suspects they were paid from the consolidated fund.

He said he was sending the documentation he had gathered so far to the National Security or EOCO to investigate the matter.

“At this stage, I don’t have any option but to refer it to the authorities that can do further and better investigations away from the ministry,” he asserted.