HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo says the contract for supply and delivery of the 1,500 tricycle ambulances was terminated in April last year, and therefore, they cannot be distributed.

Responding to a question by Petauke Independent member of parliament Emmanuel Banda on when the distribution of tricycle ambulances in Petauke District would commence, Masebo said the supplier had been informed that he was at liberty to collect them from all the sites where they were parked.

“Madam Speaker, the contract for the supply and delivery of 1,500 tricycle ambulances to support the response towards Covid-19 was terminated on 8th of April 2021. The supplier was informed and allowed to collect the tricycle ambulances from the Ministry of Health at the sites where these tricycle ambulances were delivered including Petauke. Therefore, the said tricycle ambulances cannot be distributed,” she said.

When asked what the reason for terminating the contract was, Masebo explained that it was due to a flawed process in the procurement process which triggered serious audit queries.

“I will just give some background information to answer that question. Madam Speaker, the background information on the termination of the contract to supply 1,500 tricycle ambulances to support response towards Covid-19, the contract was terminated on the 8th of April 2021. As at 18th January 2021, the supplier Barakatel Investment Limited had direct delivered 1,114 tricycle ambulances to Medical Stores Limited, Mansa Hub and Medical Stores Limited Chipata hub with a total value of K133,680,000. Demand for payment triggered a serious review of documentation submitted for payment. A number of anomalies were identified mostly pointing to a flawed procurement process. In this regard, the Ministry of Health resolved not to pay for the delivered tricycle ambulances but to terminate the contract,” she explained.

“The delivery points of the tricycle ambulances are as follows; in Northern Province, 254 tricycle ambulances were dumped there, in Luapula Province, 256 tricycle ambulances were also dumped there, in Eastern Province 604, giving a total of 1,114 tricycles, all of them distributed only in three provinces. On 17th of March 2021, the Ministry of Health requested for guidance from Ministry of Justice on the termination of contract for failure by the supplier to deliver the procured goods within the delivery period of 2-8 weeks from the date of signing the contract which date was on the 11th of December, 2020. On 18th March 2021, the Attorney General allowed the Ministry of Health to proceed to terminate the contract as long as notice was given to the supplier in terms of clause 23. 1 (a) of the contract.”

Masebo added that delays in receiving some donated tricycle ambulances triggered an audit query.

“On 8th of April 2021, the supplier was issued with the notice of termination for the supply delivery of 1,500 tricycle ambulances. On 15th April, 2021, the supplier acknowledged and accepted the notice of termination of the contract. Prior to the signing of the contract, 29 tricycle ambulances were donated to the Ministry of Health by the same supplier as a gift. Though it took long to collect the donated tricycle ambulances, the Ministry of Health received them and distributed them. Delays in receiving these donated tricycle ambulances triggered an audit query by which the Ministry of Health appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of your House, Madam Speaker. End of story,” she said.

When asked by Msanzala PF member of parliament Elias Daka on the way forward as the Tricycle Ambulances were still at the hospital premises in Petauke, Masebo said she was not sure why they were still there.

“It is true to say that these Tricycle ambulances were at the district hospital in Petauke. I think for over a year now. But it is also true to say that the supplier was told that we are not purchasing them as government. This new dawn government was not purchasing them. And therefore, the supplier was told to collect them. Maybe he kept them that long [because] he was hoping that along the way we would need them, but we didn’t. The 29 like I said which were distributed were apparently a gift that was given to the ministry before the deal. So, we had a gift of 29 which we did not pay anything for and then the order came of the 1,500 which did not proceed because of some situation that the Office of the Attorney General felt the procedures were not okay,” said Masebo.

“So, although the goods were delivered before the conclusion of the deal, what I can simply say is that it is just good that the contract was terminated in a manner where there was I think some understanding or agreement ‘that you have flawed on this point of quantity and delivery according to this time, so we are terminating.’ Like I have said, Madam Speaker, unless somebody has information to the contrary, what I am giving is what is the official position of the Ministry of Health. So, I am not sure why they are still there in Petauke because the information I had up to this morning was that they have removed them and parked them within, of course, the district but not under our charge.”