Ambulances pulled off road

SHOCKING STATE: Inside a Baymed EC ambulance service vehicle that was pulled off the road after being found unroadworthy.Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
SHOCKING STATE: Inside a Baymed EC ambulance service vehicle that was pulled off the road after being found unroadworthy. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

THREE private ambulances have been pulled from service after Nelson Mandela Bay traffic authorities found that two were operating as “illegal ambulances” while the third was unroadworthy, with as many as 15 defects.

Ambulance providers Baymed EC and Trauma Net were warned on Monday to refrain from using the ambulances after it was discovered that two were registered as panel vans – one of which was unroadworthy – and a third was also unroadworthy.

One of the two Baymed EC ambulances was found to have 15 defects, including faulty brakes and seatbelts, a rusted undercarriage and three smooth tyres. The other was found to have no rear brakes, no parking brake and faulty lights.

A Trauma Net ambulance was found to be incorrectly registered as a panel van.

The move has prompted ambulance providers to claim that opposition companies in the metro, with ties to senior traffic department officials, are victimising them.

According to the National Road Traffic Act, all ambulances must be registered by the Transport Department as emergency vehicles after having been certified as safe to transport patients.

This allows them to use red lights and a siren when responding to emergencies.

Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said one of the Baymed ambulances was pulled over after jumping a red traffic light.

“This ambulance did not have its emergency lights or siren on – the driver was not on his way to an emergency … there was virtually no equipment in the ambulance.

“The officer then noticed that the vehicle was seemingly not in a roadworthy condition and [took it] for a roadworthy test. A total of 15 defects were found.”

On the same day, a traffic officer attending to an accident found two ambulances – from Trauma Net and Baymed – at the scene.

Both vehicles were taken for a standard roadworthy test, which the Baymed ambulance failed. Both ambulances were, however, found to be registered as panel vans.

Williams said the three vehicles were taken off the road but given back to the companies, and if they continued to use them, they would be impounded and the companies would face prosecution. – Gareth Wilson

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