Health ve­hi­cles gath­er­ing dust

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - BENIDA PHILLIPS STAFF REPORTER

ABOUT 50 brand new ve­hi­cles, worth more than R60 mil­lion, in­clud­ing Toy­ota Land Cruis­ers, Toy­ota Hilux bakkies and Toy­ota Quan­tums, have been col­lect­ing dust at the govern­ment garage in Or­pen Street, where they have been parked for more than a year.

The ve­hi­cles, the ma­jor­ity of which are brand new, are be­lieved to be the prop­erty of the North­ern Cape De­part­ment of Health.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion, the ve­hi­cles have been parked at the garage for more than a year al­ready and there is no in­di­ca­tion of how and when they will be utilised by the de­part­ment.

Upon en­quir­ing about whom the ve­hi­cles be­longed to and why they had not been de­liv­ered to the right­ful owner, the CEO of the North­ern Cape Fleet and Trad­ing En­tity, Mzwandile Bosch, re­mained tight-lipped and re­ferred all me­dia en­quiries to the De­part­ment of Health.

“We have been stor­ing the ve­hi­cles for the de­part­ment on the premises. Any fur­ther ques­tions on the mat­ter should be di­rected to the Health De­part­ment,” Bosch said.

When roughly counted, the ve­hi­cles com­prised of about 21 brand new Toy­ota Land Cruis­ers, 15 new Toy­ota Quan­tum taxis, six new Toy­ota Hilux bakkies and four branded am­bu­lances with tem­po­rary Gaut­eng reg­is­tra­tion num­bers.

Two branded am­bu­lances are also cur­rently parked in­side the garage. The ve­hi­cles have been crammed into the side of the build­ing with a fleet of Land Cruis­ers parked in a neat, straight line at the back of the build­ing.

North­ern Cape De­part­ment of Health spokesper­son, Le­bo­gang Ma­haja, con­firmed that the ve­hi­cles be­longed to the de­part­ment but did not elab­o­rate on why they had been parked at the govern­ment garage for such a long pe­riod. He also did not say which ar­eas they will be dis­trib­uted to.

“The new ve­hi­cles pro­cured are part of the de­part­men­tal turn­around strat­egy to grad­u­ally in­crease the Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices (EMS) fleet in our en­deav­our to im­prove on the emer­gency re­sponse time across the Prov­ince,” Ma­haja said.

“Th­ese ve­hi­cles are await­ing con­ver­sions and will be op­er­a­tionalised dur­ing the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. The in­ter­nal pro­cure­ment process is cur­rently un­der way to se­cure the ser­vices of a suit­able sup­plier to con­vert the ve­hi­cles for EMS pur­poses.”

The Health and Other Ser­vices Per­son­nel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) mean­while slammed the de­part­ment for drag­ging its feet in sup­ply­ing the much­needed ve­hi­cles.

The union’s spokesper­son, Kevin Halama, said the de­part­ment was dis­re­gard­ing the needs of com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are con­cerned by the news that there is fleet of about 50 ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing am­bu­lances, be­long­ing to the North­ern Cape De­part­ment of Health parked at the govern­ment’s garage in Kim­ber­ley, in­stead of be­ing used to de­liver much-needed ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties.

“Our mem­bers work­ing as emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice per­son­nel con­stantly high­light the dif­fi­cult work­ing con­di­tions they find them­selves in, in­clud­ing be­ing ex­pected to work as one-man am­bu­lance crews, which is con­tra­ven­tion of the EMS Reg­u­la­tions as pro­mul­gated in the Na­tional Health Act.

“Hospersa has re­ported the North­ern Cape De­part­ment of Health to the of­fice of the Health Om­buds­man for this con­tra­ven­tion, as not only does it put our mem­bers un­der enor­mous pres­sure when at­tend­ing to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies but also af­fects the qual­ity of the emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice be­ing de­liv­ered to com­mu­ni­ties.

“We con­demn the North­ern Cape De­part­ment of Health for its dis­re­gard for de­liv­er­ing qual­ity ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties in the Prov­ince. The parked ve­hi­cles that are not be­ing used fur­ther proves the de­part­ment’s dis­re­gard of qual­ity ser­vice de­liv­ery,” Halama con­cluded.

NOT USED: Pic­ture: So­raya Crowie

Sev­eral ve­hi­cles, be­long­ing to the pro­vin­cial De­part­ment of Health, are parked at the North­ern Cape Fleet and Trade-In (the old govern­ment garage) in Or­pen Street . . . and ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion they have been there for more than a year.

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