Private ambulance association threatens legal action if grievances are not taken seriously
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulance Association (KZNPAA) has threatened to take radical action against the Road Accident Fund (RAF) over ongoing payment disputes.
According to their memorandum of understanding (MOU) which was handed over to the RAF on Friday, the KZNPAA said should the fund fail to meet their demands and deal decisively with what the association deems is “economic sabotage”, then they (the association) will withdraw their ambulances without further notice and take legal action.
On Friday, members of the KZNPAA downed tools and marched to the RAF offices in the Durban CBD to hand over their MOU.
The association's acting chairperson, Andile Nduli, accused the RAF of operating within the realm of a developmental state.
"Regrettably, it demonstrates indigent grasp of the business environment. Resulting in the belief that we exist to service its clients for free. The RAF is obligated to pay for services received from the suppliers. It’s doing them no favour," he said.
Nduli said their association, which was formed in September, is made up of members who are serious business operators and provides employment to 450 people.
"These employees in turn support families. Private ambulances receive no financial assistance from the state/government. Our operations are funded from the funds primarily claimed from the RAF," he said.
He added that considering that the last payment made was in February this year, with no formal communication received, they viewed the action by the RAF as economic sabotage.
"Lack of payment from March 2020 has caused extreme harm and suffering to our businesses. Yet we still provide the service; for we understand that the victims are not responsible for this negligence. Many lives would have been lost, unnecessarily. However, 'free service' can’t continue forever," Nduli said.
Here is the KZNPAA’s list of demands as per their MOU:
a) RAF board to instruct the accounting officer to release payment of our members’ outstanding claims in the next 24 hours upon receipt hereof.
b) RAF board to initiate an investigation into the conduct of the provincial office officials responsible for this economic sabotage including the 9 accounting officers’ failure to ensure that claims are paid timeously and proper communication is dispersed.
c) Ministry of Transport & Finance to advise why clause 24 (5) and (7) of the RAF Act is not outdated, unconstitutional and in conflict with government policy on payment of suppliers, in particular, SMMES?
d) RAF board and Ministry of Transport to instruct the accounting officer to issue an instruction to officials that the practice of supplier preferential treatment (EMRS, corporate and big boys) is a violation of our right to equality, constitutional principles mentioned above, Code of Ethics, etc.
e) The board to instruct the accounting officer to institute disciplinary action against the proponents and appliers of a discriminatory preferential treatment including removing the team working on our claims.
f) The board to instruct the accounting officer to convene a meeting to discuss and resolve all the challenges set out in paragraph 7 above. This meeting to finalise discussion on these issues before 10 December 2020.
g) The board to instruct the accounting officer to compensate our members to the equivalent of 25% of the individual’s total claim for the losses suffered and inconvenience incurred. Terms of payment to be 3 months.
h) Treasury and Ministry of Transport to advise on remedial actions including consequence management to take and/or recommend to the board about the violations and failures referred to above.
Nduli said they were expecting a response by November 7.