“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,”
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 much-needed 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.