LAHORE - The Punjab government has transferred the administrative control of the Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) from the Home Department to the Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD).

This is the third time that the Punjab government has transferred the administrative control of the PES (Rescue 1122) from one department to other. The decision was taken in the light of a health review meeting held here recently.

Responding to a query about the transfer of the PES administrative control to S&GAD, sources in the Planning and Development Department (P&D) cited an inquiry report involving the Rescue 1122 after an evaluation specialist analysed the situation.

According to the report, “The evaluation specialist said the human resource was not up to the mark and lacked efficiency.” When the chair asked the Rescue 1122 director general to give his viewpoint on this, he said, “Rescuers were in panic as an evaluation team from the headquarters was checking them and this was not a routine matter.” He said that people from remote areas could not be compared to those from backward areas. The then Additional Home Secretary Shahid Nasir Raja said the recruitment was made on an all Punjab basis. The director general said that preference was given to local people. On this, P&D Health Chief Shahid Abbas said that preference should not compromise the standards. The committee also showed concern with regard to training of the staff. The additional home secretary seconded the viewpoint and said this means that observations in the report about recruitment and training were valid. The committee said the administrative department might look into the recruitment and training matters.

Moreover, the evaluation specialist highlighted the observation relating to quality of Chinese ambulances and pointed out numerous issues like low engine power, dysfunctional AC system, fragile vehicle body, poor road grip, inaccurate fuel gauges and less space, etc. Moreover, fuel consumption is 3.3km per litre, driver cabin door doesn’t open and availability of spare parts is limited. “These problems surfaced just two months after the ambulances were delivered to the Taunsa station in June 2013.” According to the evaluation specialist, documents showed that problems with the Chinese ambulances were in the knowledge of the management of the PES.

The committee said the administrative department might look into the feasibility of the Chinese ambulances after a proper economic analysis to find a future choice in the best public interest. The specialist said that standardisation committee’s specifications approved by the Technical Bid Evaluation Committee were ignored and this led to final award of tender to Afzal Motors (PVT) Ltd and not Daewoo Company. The committee approved constitution of a probe committee to scrutinise the issues pertaining to recruitment, training and procurement. It was also said that necessary equipment was missing in ambulances like oxymetres, portable ventilators and cardiac monitors.

Commenting on the aforementioned issues, Rescue 1122 spokesperson Jam Sajjad said, “The prime responsibility of the previous department was to maintain law and order; therefore, the administrative control of the emergency service was handed over to S&GAD. The service has started recruitments through NTS and bids for procurement were made on merit.” However, he did not explain why the Rescue 1122 earlier said good bye to health and P&D departments and moved to the Home Department.

The additional chief secretary (home) wrote that since 2009, when PES (Rescue 1122) was placed under the administrative supervision of the Home Department, a number of achievements were made in terms of expansion in territorial coverage (outreach) and qualitative improvement in institutional and operational capacity of the organisation.

A high powered procurement committee consisting of a variety of experts was constituted with the approval of the chief minister to ensure transparency in the procurement processes. The director general never accepted this interference of the parent department. A Home Department official said on condition of anonymity that the department got rid of Director General Rizwan Akhtar but he managed to join it again after quitting Red Crescent.