Judgement debt fears stopped us from cancelling ambulance contract – Segbefia

The NDC government feared possible judgement debt if it cancelled a 2.4million Euros contract it signed with a private company for the supply of 200 ambulances which turned out to be unfit for purpose.

Former Health minister Alex Segbefia said although he would not cancel the contract, he resolved not to pay the supplier until the ambulances were properly fitted to the Health ministry’s specifications.

But it has emerged that unknown to the minister, the supplier, Big Sea, was paid from the Finance ministry.

The ambulances which look like sprinter buses fitted with kitchen panels have been parked at the military base in Accra.

Government is now looking into why the supplier was paid despite the substandard supplies. It is also investigating to find out who ordered the payment.

There is also a search for documentation covering the payment after the minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu claimed none could be traced.

The last Health Minister Alex Segbefia under the erstwhile Mahama government told Joy News he came to meet a contract already signed by his predecessor for the supply of the ambulances.

To his disappointment, the 30 ambulances delivered in two batches were simply not usable. He was once summoned to Parliament to answer questions about the ambulances and explained to the MPs the vehicles were not good enough for use.

He told the MPs, “it is the duty of the Ministry to ensure that we do not take what we haven’t asked for. So we’re ensuring we have what we asked for, that is why we haven’t distributed the ambulances.” “We want to make sure we get what we ordered for and we will put up a list of beneficiaries when they arrive in the country,” Mr. Segbefia noted in Parliament.

Later, the Ministry of Health contacted the supplier and complained about the state of the ambulances. According to him, Big Sea explained it was shipping a container load of equipment and parts to be fitted to the emergency vehicles. But he asked that monies be paid for the supply, a request Alex Segbefia said was rejected outright.

He said since he could not cancel the contract, he “had to give the supplier, in [his] humble opinion, the opportunity to still deliver” The former minister said a team from the Health ministry was dispatched to meet the supplier and negotiate a timetable for the supply of the remaining 170 ambulances.

They were to be inspected before shipment, the two parties agreed. Alex Segbefia said for Big Sea to have been paid means a team has gone to inspect the vehicles and expressed satisfaction.

But the government is not satisfied with the vehicles and Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has been invited to investigate who ordered the payment.
Source: Myjoyonline.com

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