Almost all the Keke-Ambulances donated to Anambra State Primary Healthcare Centres under the immediate past administration of Governor Willie Obiano are currently immovable barely two years they were procured.
A visit to the PHCs in Awka North, Oyi, Dunukofia, Awka South, Aguata and Njikoka Council Areas shows that no single facility had their ambulances operational.
Stakeholders have described the development as worrisome, especially in view of the cost implications of the equipment, as well as hype by the then administration, as to how the rejigging of the healthcare system would increase efficiency.
“A situation where almost none of the PHCs have a functional keke ambulance, makes it impossible to move serious health cases that could not be handled at the PHCs to secondary facilities, as was observed with a Tuberculosis case at Amanuke PHCs in Awka North.
“The patient, Mary Abam, a local farmer, was met at the PHC coughing profusely in the same environment where infants were being immunized and other patients being treated.
“When accosted, the patient explained that her samples had been taken for 10 days for gene expert but she had not heard anything from the hospital, making her to insist on remaining at the facility,” a resident of the community narrated.
The health attendant at the facility who preferred anonymity for obvious reasons, explained that they could not move her to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku-Awka, because there were no mobility vehicles.
“This Keke ambulance you see conspicuously parked in the premises had bee stationary since we received it,” she said.
Same was the case with other PHCs visited where the ambulances were in ruins, not being used.
Officers in Charge of other facilities, who also did not want their names on print for fear of being victimized, described the keke ambulance initiative as total fraud.
The alleged that the contractors that handled the project procured non-functional ambulances for the PHCs.
“The promise of government was to use the Keke ambulances to improve health service at the grassroots but the project was handled by contractors, who procured non-functional ambulances for the PHCs.
“Some officials of the previous government signed off on the vehicles and mandated us to sign that the equipment were in good condition, when they were actually bad.
“Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led administration need to probe into the issue,” one of the officers explained.
Reacting, Executive Secretary of the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, ASPHCDA, Pharmacist Chisom Uchem confirmed that the Keke ambulances never worked for one day, suggesting a clear scam.
She said several PHCs officials had to tow their own ambulances from the Government House they were distributed to their locations.
She said, “Many of the PHCs had to use towing vans to take their keke ambulances from the government house to their facilities.
“So, it is not about bandying the information that keke ambulances were distributed to communities but about the functionality of those vehicles.
“Majority of them were out of use and was never made to even service anybody from the onset.
“So, I can tell you that none of them is functional. But as a way forward, the present administration is making alternative arrangement for transportation at the PHCs, that are more reliable and sustainable.
“One of such arrangements include the introduction of the 112 emergency services, where patients are picked up when they need to be moved to the next level of care, when they call.”
Uchem further disclosed arrangement with local private operators of keke to provide transportation services, for which they would be paid.