-wants local gov’t minister to explain
Regional Eight Chairman Mark Crawford is calling on Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker to make public full details of the procurement of a ramshackle ambulance that the region is refusing to take possession of.
Crawford in a letter appearing in the April 14th edition of this newspaper was quoted as saying that, “the sum of $12M was approved in the 2013 national budget for an ambulance for the Mahdia Hospital, Region No. 8.”
The Regional Chairman said that although $12M was allocated for the vehicle “we don’t know how much was spent. We did not request any information but even requesting information is hard sometimes.”
Stabroek News made several attempts yesterday to get a comment from the Minister but to no avail.
In a telephone interview on Saturday, Crawford said that he was not going to accept the ambulance. “This ambulance is just a waste of money, by the time it make two trips on the road it gon have to go in a junkyard and then they (Government) gon say that they give the Region a good ambulance and we destroyed it. I am not accepting the ambulance,” he said.
This newspaper also understands that there was no official handing over ceremony for the ambulance. “The ambulance was brought to the Region on March 9th, 2014 and was in the compound of the Regional Democratic Council but was subsequently moved to the garage of the Mahdia Hospital.”
Further, Crawford said that this was the only ambulance in the Region. “Long now we didn’t have an ambulance. They had sent an old one but it wasn’t working and right now it parked in some yard.”
Meanwhile, AFC Councillor Neim Gafoor told Stabroek News that he would like the public to be the judge of the vehicle. “What we seeing is a rotten old thing. Since 2011 at several committee meetings we have requested an ambulance for the Mahdia Hospital but we were told by the Regional Health Officer and the Regional Executive Officer that they are trying to get duty-free to bring in the vehicle. We want the public to tell we if that is a new ambulance. ”
“This is not no $12m vehicle, it is an old vehicle. Is almost three years now they say it deh on a ship and then on the wharf and then doing some work in town. A rotten ambulance gon come duty-free and cost so much money?” he questioned
Gafoor also complained about other health issues affecting Region 8. According to the source, they have been calling for an upgrade of the Chenapau Health Centre in Sub Region number one for years but their cries have fallen on deaf ears.
“Since 2011 RDC councillors have been making requests for the health centre to be upgraded but nothing has been done. At the last RDC meeting in February, it was mentioned that several workers and contractors would have been sent
to do repairs to the health centre and the fence, but nothing has been done,” the councillor said.
Gafoor added that there was also no running water at the health centre. “There are no taps, there is a pipe that runs to the receiver (a bucket) and that is how people wash their hands, it is in a very bad condition. If a baby born that is how they does get the water to wash it off. Look at the condition of this place, it is discouraging how they treating the residents of Region 8,” Gafoor complained.
Region Eight is controlled by the opposition and there have been repeated standoffs between the council on one hand and the Regional Executive Officer and the Local Government Ministry on the other hand.