No budget to purchase new sea ambulances: Defence Minister

Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi has stated that the ministry does not have the budget to procure new sea ambulances.

The sea ambulances being used in the atolls are worn out and in need of repair. Thoddoo MP Hassan Shiyan, in a letter sent to the minister requesting information, said the sea ambulance used by Aa. atoll Hospital is in bad condition, and asked when the hospital will receive a new vessel.

In her response which was read out at the Parliament on Tuesday, Minister Mariya said the vessels which were handed over to Maldives National Defense Force to start the sea ambulance service is 2015 were already in bad condition. The 27 vessels handed over to MNDF had been used for ten years prior to that, said the minister.

Out of these, 10 vessels can no longer being used to provide sea ambulance services and therefore have been removed from the fleet. While 9 new ambulances were added to the fleet, a total of 26 vessels are currently being used for sea ambulance operations. The minister said all but 6 vessels that were added to the fleet this year are in dire need of repair.

Although the vessels are in bad condition, the ministry does not have the budget to purchase new vessels, said the minister. The only viable solution at this time is to continue using the same vessels with repairs. While there is no designated budget for sea ambulance repairs, the work is currently carried out using the budget allocated for the repair of other MNDF vessels, said the minister.

The Defense Ministry estimates that MVR 262 million will be needed for repairs and to procure new ambulance vessels over the next three years.