Irregularities in procurement of ambulances

Dhangadi, January 9

The Social Development Ministry of Sudurpashchim Province is learnt to have been involved in irregularities in that it distributed phased-out mini-trucks as state-of-the-art ambulances to different districts and local bodies here.

As learnt, the 16 emergency vehicles, which the ministry claimed were state-of-the-art ambulances were in actuality mini trucks. They were distributed to nine districts in the province two months ago.

The particular model (407) made in 2014 is no longer in use, as the manufacturing company — Tata Motors — has stopped its production and distribution. The ministry had purchased the vehicles last fiscal.

As per the current market price, the truck costs Rs 1.885 million, including vat. However, in view of the fact that customs tax is exempted for vehicles to be used as ambulance, it doesn’t cost beyond Rs 800,000. The ministry, however, paid 3.907 million rupees for each of the vehicles.

“Let’s assume they spent additional Rs 1 million to convert the Rs 800,000 worth truck into an ambulance, but that way too, the total price would total to Rs 1.8 million per vehicle, whereas apparently the ministry paid some Rs 2.1 million extra for each of those so-called ambulances,” sources said.

Information Officer Hemraj Khadka at the Social Development Ministry admitted the ministry had released payment of Rs 3.9 million per ambulance. He, however, claimed that the vehicles were made in 2016, not in 2014.

According to experts, the 407 model vehicle produced by TATA is an outdated model. The model is not in use even in Nepal. It has very little ground clearance and isn’t clearly for hilly areas, so, putting a truck to use as ambulance is ridiculous. Meanwhile, most of the ambulances distributed have been lying useless till date. “The ministry sent us ambulance but as it’s not suitable for use, we don’t know what to do with the vehicle,” said a people’s representative.

Darchula’s Naugad and Duhu health posts, Bajhang’s Rayal Primary Health Centre and Matela Health Post, Kailali’s Seti Provincial Hospital, Kanchanpur’s Mahakali Zonal Hospital, Doti’s Doti District Hospital, Achham’s District Hospital, Babla Health Post, Kamal Bazaar Primary Health Centre and Bannagadi Health Post, Bajura’s Tante Health Post, Baitadi’s Kulau Health Post, among others, had been provided the ambulances.