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Unhonoured payments leave rescue service providers in limbo

Unhonoured payments leave rescue service providers in limbo

By Wellington Zimbowa

RESCUE services for road traffic accident victims is in limbo as emergency ambulance service providers, largely private players, are concerned about the unhonoured payments for emergency accidents reactions, spelling a potentially huge disaster for unfortunate for road users, it has emerged.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Brighton Masango, Mars head of operations and training, said emergency ambulance service providers are facing challenges in recouping costs for services rendered in an emergency; hence, the weak response in public emergency call notifications.

He added that private ambulance service providers are reaping huge losses from road accidents, especially those that are declared national road disasters.

“We are not talking to anyone else. When accidents do happen, we react out of mercy. There is no one in particular that we will be talking to. In some instances, when an accident happens and we react we then talk to the victims and ask for payments.

“At times, they do tell us that they never called for our assistance directing us that we engage those who would have called us,” he said.

He added that they approached the Insurance sector on the issue with no success.

This comes at a time when there are growing concerns to have an account that caters for road traffic situations.

Masango added that ambulance operators are largely hindered in offering key services upon reaction to road accidents happens since their expenses are not honoured.

He also highlighted that private ambulance operators are being overburdened through a lack of payments for services when the operators react to emergency calls.

He lamented that their services are not being paid for resulting in unnecessary expenses, adding that the key stipulations of a general fund for such situations are being overlooked.

“We are talking to no one in particular regarding the issue of public road accidents. We once engaged the insurance sector on the possibility if we claiming our expenses for expenses attained in this regard, but they told us that only an insurer can do so,

 “However, this is largely impacting on our response. You would find that when an accident happens and there is no reaction to an emergency call. It’s because we would then calculate on the business implications of the situation, whether to react to a call that payment is uncertain or respond to another call where it’s guaranteed that payment would be done,” said the Mars senior official.

According to the latest WHO data published in the 2018 Road Traffic Accidents Deaths in Zimbabwe reached 7 667 or 6.46% of total deaths.

Masango added that the country should take a cue from neighbouring South Africa which has an active fund to cater for public road accidents with private ambulance service providers being allocated to cater for in terms of public emergencies with cost being recouped through the government’s standing fund.

Efforts to get a comment from authorities, including the Insurance Pension Commission, were not fruitful by the time of going to press.

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