By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
84 out of 667 emergency ambulances in Gauteng are currently not operational, and R88 million has been spent on repairing ambulances involved in accidents in the past three years.
These figures are revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mahlangu, emergency ambulances were involved in 256 major accidents from 2011 to March this year.
Last year, it cost R37.8 million to repair damaged ambulances, and R31.5 million in 2013 and R19.4 million in 2012.
The high number of accidents and rising cost of repairs is of great concern.
At any one time, about one in eight ambulances is off the road because they are in a workshop.
A large number are too damaged to be repaired, and are sold at auctions for scrap metal. The wrecks can be seen at the grounds of the Lebone College in Pretoria.
According to international norms, Gauteng should have 1200 ambulances to service our population of 12 million people, but we only have 787 which includes 120 private ambulances.
Better management and training of drivers is needed to ensure that as many ambulances as possible are on the roads to save the lives of emergency patients.