Contractor behind ambulance scandal speaks out
In 2009, Ghanaian entrepreneur, Richard Dzakpa, noticed a severe gap in the integrity of Ghana’s healthcare system, specifically with ambulances – or lack thereof.
“There are 28 million Ghanaians and only 30 ambulances in Ghana,” he lamented on the Super Morning Show Wednesday.
His solution was to increase that number to 200. Through his firm, Big Sea Company, he successfully drafted a comprehensive proposal to Stanbic Bank, which approved a €15.8 million loan. He then submitted the same proposal to the Health and Finance Ministries who accepted the terms as well.
Nine years later, those ambulances have yet to appear. Dzakpa explained that under late former President John Atta Mills’ administration, all hands were on deck to follow through with the proposal. A foreign contractor was called in to help with the manufacturing of the ambulances.
But all of that halted when then-President John Mahama took over in 2012. Dzakpa said he knew there would be slight shifts to the plan when new Ministers came on board, but he did not know his entire proposal would be trashed.
He blames former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, for refusing to sign documents which would have finalized the deal.
“He threw it out,” said Dzakpa.
Terkper could not be immediately reached for comment.
Last year, Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, ordered Economic and Organised Crime to investigate into accusations that under Mahama’s administration, state funds (at the tune of $2.4 million) were improperly used to pay for 30 unfit ambulances, which Manu described as “sprinter buses fitted with kitchen panels.”
At the time, the Minister said that Dzakpa’s firm supplied the vehicles, but Dzakpa contends that he was unaware that the vehicles had been paid for.
Meanwhile, needless deaths in Ghana remain remarkably high. A 2010 Population and Housing Census Report found that there are currently 7 deaths per 1000 people, “20% higher than the unadjusted crude death rate, which highlighted the potential influence of the young age structure of Ghana,” the report reads.
At that the time of this report, there are still only 30 ambulances serving Ghana’s ballooning population.