The Gauteng Health Department and the ANC in Tshwane are misleading residents about the poor state of ambulance services as a result of provincialisation, and are making baseless accusations that the DA wishes to profit from a private emergency service provider.
Residents frequently complain about slow ambulance response times, and these have worsened since the City of Tshwane had to stop using its own ambulances because the provincial government failed to extend the city’s operating licence for emergency services.
The City of Tshwane has responded to about 37 322 emergency calls since July 2018 when the province withdrew from its agency agreement with the city because of provincialisation.
But the city’s 73 ambulances and 24 other emergency vehicles now stand idle because it is not legal to operate without a licence from the province.
It is estimated that the city has about 770 000 citizens who qualify for free treatment and transport by the City Emergency Medical Services. This includes the unemployed, pensioners, children under six years of age, and maternity, tuberculosis and terminally ill patients
I have written to Premier David Makhura to intervene urgently to ensure that an operating licence is issued to ensure that the city’s emerging vehicles can be used.
He needs to concede that the provincialisation of ambulances has been poorly handled as it has led to the disuse of ambulances owned by the three metros in Gauteng.
Unlike Tshwane, the ANC-run city of Ekurhuleni has not applied for a licence to run their ambulances, and response times there have plummeted.
Only 41 Johannesburg city ambulances still operate whereas there used to be more than 90 ambulances previously.
It is essential that all available ambulances and personnel are used to provide a decent emergency service, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.