Akufo-Addo to commission 307 ambulances today
Barring any last-minute hitches, President Nana Akufo-Addo will later this morning [Tuesday] commission the 307 ambulances procured by the government for distribution across the various constituencies in the country.
The commissioning will take place at the forecourt of the State House in Accra.This comes after an earlier postponement from January 6, 2020, to today [Tuesday], over claims that the training of Emergency Medical Technicians and installation of tracking devices were still ongoing.
The Head of the National Ambulance Service, Prof. Ahmad Nuhu Zakariah, said that unlike the previous set of ambulances, the new ambulances have been insured.
“The ambulances were treated like any other government vehicles and because they have been insured now, that becomes something we should be happy about. In the past, we used to have a lot of challenges. For example, with this comprehensive insurance, it takes away the burden of the case where there is an accident and we have difficulties,” he said.
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah at a press briefing on Sunday said clearance has been given for 575 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to be recruited out of which 450 have been recruited.
He further charged the National Ambulance Service to properly maintain the ambulances for longevity.
“Government expects the Ambulance Service to maintain this investment to ensure longevity. It is further expected that this injection will be put to good use to serve the good people of Ghana and add to ongoing efforts to secure livelihoods,” he noted.
Backlash over delays
The first batch of ambulances arrived in September 2019 and have been parked at the State House.During a press encounter, President Nana Akufo-Addo said he wanted all the ambulances to be made available before distribution to avoid any accusations of bias.
“The Minister for Special Development Initiative told me some of the ambulances were in and asked if she should distribute them and I said no, she shouldn’t. She should wait for the others to come in so that we can distribute all at the same time…
Fortunately for us all of them will be in by the end of this month and on the 6th of January, I will commission them and the distribution will take place simultaneously and nobody will accuse me of favouritism, and so on. There is no justification on they being parked but if I was to send it here and not here I think you know the kind of discourse that will come.”
The Minority in Parliament accused the government of insensitivity in refusing to distribute the ambulances.It further said the government was taking Ghanaians for granted following the postponement of the commissioning date from January 6 to January 28.
Pressure Group Occupy Ghana also expressed its disappointment with the delays saying it was a sign of gross irresponsibility.Ghana’s 29 million population currently has only 50 functioning ambulances.
The statistics indicate that one ambulance is shared by over 520,000 Ghanaians.This is well below the recommended population to ambulance ratio of one ambulance to 25,000 people.