Fix­ing hos­pi­tal lifts now on track


THE pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has ter­mi­nated the ser­vices of the con­trac­tors who were main­tain­ing lifts at the Steve Biko Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal, In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment MEC Ja­cob Mam­abolo has said.

Mam­abolo briefed the me­dia yes­ter­day af­ter an unan­nounced visit to the hos­pi­tal with Premier David Makhura and MEC Gwen Ramok­gopa af­ter chal­lenges ex­pe­ri­enced with the lifts in re­cent weeks.

The hos­pi­tal was hit with a mas­sive lift fi­asco in which only one of its 27 lifts was func­tion­ing. Pro­ce­dures that re­quire trans­porta­tion from one floor to the other have been put on hold and crit­i­cal equip­ment can­not be moved around.

Mam­abolo said the department had over the years in­tro­duced a prac­tice where third par­ties took over the main­te­nance of lifts in­stead of leav­ing this func­tion to the man­u­fac­tur­ers of the equip­ment.

He said this had led to the tech­ni­cal glitch at the hos­pi­tal.

“As a re­sult of con­trac­tors tak­ing over from the man­u­fac­tur­ers of the orig­i­nal equip­ment, the qual­ity of ser­vice and the pro­vi­sion of the parts to make sure that the lifts are main­tained to the high­est level of stan­dard and are com­pli­ant with the re­quired stan­dard, has taken a knock.

“And that is ba­si­cally be­cause of this ar­range­ment that the department has had over the years,” Mam­abolo said.

He said since the be­gin­ning of the month, Schindler and Koyo & Otis, the orig­i­nal man­u­fac­tur­ers, had taken over op­er­at­ing the lifts.

“I can with spe­cific ref­er­ence to this fa­cil­ity men­tion that the lifts are now un­der the di­rect con­trol and main­te­nance ser­vice by the orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers; three by Koyo & Otis and the rest be­long­ing to Schendler,” he said.

At present, nine of its lifts are func­tional, a vast im­prove­ment to just one early this week.

The MEC said they had ap­pointed a new res­i­dent en­gi­neer who would make sure that the lifts were run ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively.

He said the department would be pre­sented to­day with a plan and a time­line of when all the lifts hos­pi­tal would be fixed. Makhura ex­pressed his con­cern about the predica­ment. “We are here to­day to put pres­sure on the whole sys­tem, not just on the hos­pi­tal but on the con­trac­tors as well, who need to un­der­stand that these lifts need to be up and run­ning as this is a se­ri­ous is­sue,” he said.

Re­fer­ring to to the tragedy in which more than 100 men­tal health pa­tients died last year in Gaut­eng ow­ing to a lack of proper health­care, Makhura said it was im­por­tant to act promptly as he did not want the is­sue of Life Esidi­meni re­peat­ing it­self.

“I was in Brazil and I came back yes­ter­day and my first day on duty to­day is here at Steve Biko. I spoke to the MEC to say I have seen when I was away that there were is­sues about the hos­pi­tal, and as part of our unan­nounced vis­its let’s re­spond to the mat­ter,” Makhura said.

He com­mended the hos­pi­tal for its ser­vices and said he was happy with its work.

Ramok­gopa also ex­pressed her hap­pi­ness with the ser­vices at Steve Biko, with the ex­cep­tion of pa­tients hav­ing a long wait be­fore be­ing as­sisted.

While the hos­pi­tal waits for all the lifts to be fixed, it is us­ing golf carts, mo­tor ve­hi­cles, shut­tles and evac­u­a­tion equip­ment to sup­port pa­tients and staff.

The act­ing head of the hos­pi­tal, Mathabo Mathe­bula, said they were do­ing all in their power to make sure pa­tients were as­sisted as they re­mained their first pri­or­ity.


Premier David Makhura and MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramok­gopa chat to pa­tients dur­ing an unan­nounced visit to Steve Biko Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal yes­ter­day.

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