Three ambulances that were detained at the Port of Mombasa have been released to the Taita-Taveta County Government after payment of storage fees.
The ambulances, which were imported from the United States, had been lying at the port since September last year despite the county government paying more than Sh11 million in freight charges.
The vehicles were donated by a humanitarian organisation in Michigan City, Indiana. “The ambulances have been delivered to the county administration after payment of Sh6 million and governor Granton Samboja will launch the project soon,” said health chief officer Christine Mwakera.
Earlier, the Executive had accused a freight agency of failing to release the vehicles despite payment of storage fees.
“We made the last payment, but the operator of a container freight station has been changing goal posts on the storage fees,” Health Executive Daniel Makoko told members of a health committee recently.
He continued, "We have so far paid Sh11 million and the freight agency requires an additional Sh6 million. I wrote a letter to the Customs department to waive the storage charges that were rising by the day, but in vain."
Mr Makoko, who was accompanied by Dr Mwakera, told the committee that they had sent drivers to collect the vehicles, but they were turned away by the agency.
Makoko and his team were being grilled on why the county administration had been incurring losses running into millions of shillings in import duty charges for the ambulances.
The Health assembly committee, which is chaired by Mgange-Mwanda ward representative Anselim Mwadime, said the project had inconvenienced the county government, which has been grappling with low revenue collection and huge pending bills.
Wusi-Kishamba ward representative Juma Mwamba wondered why an imported water bowser that cost Sh45 million had been immediately collected from the port.
“Clearing of goods at the port takes a maximum of four days. Why is it that clearing of the ambulances is taking almost a year? The donation has turned out to be a scandal and should be investigated,” Mr Mwamba said.
The committee was also told that the ambulances did not have in-built resuscitation machines. Spare parts were not readily available and maintenance would be costly.
“The fuel consumption of the left-hand drive ambulances is high and it is difficult to understand their operations” Mwadime said
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