ARUA. Drivers using the recently donated ambulances by Arua district woman member of parliament Ms Maurine Osoru have come under fire for alleged extortion and smuggling of goods from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The drivers allegedly ask patients to give money before they can be transported to any health facility with other reports accusing them of transporting some unidentified goods from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to the city Centre.
While speaking to journalists on Saturday, Osoru said whistleblowers from the Western part of Ayivu Division informed her about the misuse of the Ambulances for transporting illegal goods and being asked to pay before transportation to the health facility.
“People from the Western part of Ayivu told me that there was a time when one of the Ambulances was coming to Arua town at night with a lot of load that lowered the diff. The Ambulance was intercepted by soldiers. When a soldier checked what was inside, smuggled goods were found in the Ambulance” Osoru said.
Osoru also complained of the fuel she gave to the Arua district task force out of the UGX 20million controversial money given to members of Parliament that is said to be over in a period of one month. She is demanding receipts for the fuel consumed.
“A driver who asks money from patients must cease to be a driver. You cannot be asking money from somebody who is dying and yet he or she may need an operation or is trying to give birth when there is available fuel” The MP protested.
She called upon the ministry of health and Arua District Health Office to devise methodologies of monitoring the Ambulances in order to track whatever drivers transport in them.
When contacted over the matter, Arua District Health Officer (DHO), Mr. Paul Drileba said he had not registered complaints of extortion of money by drivers in his office but had reported the matter to the office of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for further investigation.
“I received that communication from the MP yesterday in the evening and I told her that I will investigate the matter. As far as we are concerned as a department, if that is true, then it calls for an administrative action of the Chief Administrative Officer’s office” Drileba said.
He said the process of talking to the drivers was ongoing to assess the matter in order to establish a better response by the district.
The DHO confirmed that the Shs 20million fuel at PAPS petrol station was almost finished admitting that there were other vehicles in the health department using the fuel as well in the process of responding to Covid-19 related emergencies.
“You know an emergency is an emergency. There is the coordination unit of the district for response to COVID-19 and the medical unit for managing COVID-19. You can’t expect one arm to be working as the other arm is closed. Practically and technically that cannot work and the finances are not enough” the DHO said.