As Ghanaians continue to express dismay at the conversion of DC 10 Ghana Airways aircraft into a “Chop Bar” in the plush airport city, the expensive yellow buses procured from China under controversial circumstances to augment the fleets of Metro Mass Transit (MMT) Company, during the John Agyekum Kufuor administration is being sold as scrap.
The famous yellow buses priced at 20 million United States Dollars and bought by the Ministry of Transport, under the watch of Dr. Richard Anane, are currently being cut into pieces and on its way to the various steel companies in Tema to be melted.
The Chinese-made Yaxin buses were sold for GH¢2,500 each to a scrap metal dealer.
The buses, purchased at expensive prices from China, about six years ago, were first sold as scrap to the Ministry of Health (MoH) to be used as makeshift health posts across the country, The Herald learnt.
This was after they had been written off, having broken down without spare parts to repair them.
Insiders had said that the buses were over-aged vehicles procured by the Kufuor regime, and came without required spares parts. They were said to have been refurbished to look new to the Ghanaian officials who travelled to China, to buy them.
Over fifty are currently parked in the yard of the Greater Regional office of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), adjacent the National Headquarters of the Red Cross Society, near the Military Dog Training School in North Dzorwulu, a suburb of Accra.
The management of MMT, in October last year told this paper that the unserviceable Chinese buses bought in 2008, were sold to the Health Ministry, after it became clear that the high-priced buses could not be salvaged.
The Health Ministry, had made a request to buy the grounded vehicles for the makeshift medical centres for some deprived areas in the country, under its Community Health Initiative Programme (CHIP).
The unserviceable yellow vehicles strangely, came to Ghana with its servicing manual written in Chinese language in total disregard for Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) regulations on importation of products into the country.
The manuals on the vehicles generated a lot of controversies over the servicing of the vehicles, because the MMT engineers could not read the Chinese language and follow the instructions detailed in them.
The buses according to the engineers from MMT could not be serviced, so it came as a great relieve to management when the MoH made the proposal to purchase the vehicles even at knockdown prices for medical centres.
The then Deputy Minister for Transport, Mrs. Dzifa Attivor, told The Herald in a telephone conversation that the Ministry of Health took custody of the unserviceable vehicles after it had fully paid for them.
She said,” I was alarmed when I drove pass the area a week ago and saw the vehicles parked in the yard”. She explained that after the necessary enquiries from the Managing Director (MD) of the company, it came to the fore that the vehicles had been sold and dully paid for by the purchaser, hence the buses now belong to the MoH.
Mr. Tony Goodman, the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of MoH, back then also confirmed that the MoH had indeed, bought the broken down vehicles.
He told The Herald that the Chinese vehicles were going to be mounted as treatment sites in some accident-prone areas across the country to offer first aid treatment for accident victims, but a large number of them would be going to the various Community Health Initiative Programme
(CHIP) compounds across the country.
The CHIP programme was intensified when Alban Bagbin was the Health Minister, The Herald learnt has since been abandoned by Sherry Ayittey, the current Minister of Health, who subsequently gave orders for the buses to be scrapped.
The Chinese buses are the second buses to be written off by MMT. The first was some Italian buses acquired by the Kufuor administration, also at very expensive prices. They turned out to be a discarded fleet, written off by the European Union (EU). There were no spare parts for the poorly-ventilated buses as the manufacturers had diversified into other businesses.