Investigation into the R10 million tender for the Eastern Cape’s controversial motorcycle ambulances launched in June with missed views on their purpose.
Eastern Cape Health Department spokeswoman Siyanda Manana told News24 that the bid evaluation committee is currently reviewing the process of awarding the contract. He said the committee was investigating because of “public discomfort” about the transaction.
Examples of motorcycles were launched in June and have been suggested as multi-purpose means of transport that can transport patients in rural areas and deliver medicines. It is equipped with a side team with a seating or reclining area, it is waterproof and has room for an intravenous drip. The department has indicated that it will buy 100 of the converted motorcycles.
Jane Cowley, the DA’s spokesperson on health in the Eastern Cape and a member of the provincial legislature, said there is essentially no problem with the use of motorcycles, but that there are many questions regarding the process followed to award the contract.
Until these questions are not answered, the completion of the tender process has been postponed.
According to Cowley, the provincial health department is in crisis and health care workers do not even have proper protective equipment. Especially now, while the Covid-19 pandemic is increasingly demanding casualties, this equipment is vital.
Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape stand at 42 357, according to the latest available figures, and are still rising.
“The acquisition and provision of protective equipment was a mess from start to finish and now we buy scooters that nobody knew anything about. Who decided to buy the motorcycles and why? How can it be decided to buy motorcycles while we do not even have enough ambulances? ”
The Eastern Cape’s health budget totals R26.3 billion, but only the medical claims against him amount to about R30 billion. Therefore, when a claim is granted against the department, it must withdraw money from one of its health care programs – such as the provision of emergency medical services – to pay the claim. Successful claims against the department totaled R600m last year, Cowley said. It takes a big bite out of the department’s budget.
Overdue debt in the department is currently R3.18bn and Cowley says there is no plan to tackle it.
There is also no money to buy proper ambulances. “The province only has about a third of the ambulances it needs. In terms of guidelines, you need one ambulance for every 10,000 people and in the Eastern Cape we need at least 650. I don’t think we even have 250 operating ambulances at this stage. ”
Cowley says it is against this background – and not because there is any objection to the use of motorcycles at all – that an inquiry into the tender has been requested. It was not only politicians who hated the motorcycles, but many South Africans either expressed their dissatisfaction with the plan or mocked it.
The DA has previously reported to the Human Rights Commission all the department about the suitability of the so-called medical motorcycles and claims that such transport for sick, elderly and needy people is unsafe and unworthy.
Cowley also said that while the department initially said the motorcycles were going to transport patients, he had now changed his mind and said it would be used to deliver medicine.