Parliament approves medical drone agreement

A majority vote of 102 against 58 polled by the minority caucus was enough to see the approval of the agreement between the Republic of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Health and Fly Zipline Ghana Limited, for drones distribution of emergency health and blood products to remote parts of the country.

With the approval, the drones, an initiative spearheaded by the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, can now fly in the country’s airspace.

There has been back and forth arguments over the consideration and approval of the US$12,527,000.00 service agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Health and Fly Zipline Ghana Limited.

Early last week, Parliament pulled the breaks on Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s drones from flying to distribute emergency health and blood products in very remote areas of the country where quality healthcare delivery is hard to reach.

This follows the discovery of some legal and regulatory issues in the contractual agreement.

Figures quoted in the agreement as service was in dispute with the minority caucus calling for the immediate withdrawal of the agreement to enable the parties to reconcile the amount.

The Government of Ghana also failed to secure Aviation certificate for the drones to fly, a major setback which compelled the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, who presided over the sitting to direct the House to defer the agreement until all the issues raised are addressed.

However, on December 6, 2018, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu announced to the House that the Government of Ghana has been able to secure Aviation Certificate for the drones, a major breakthrough as far as the agreement was concerned.

Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu who again presided over the sitting directed the Committee on Health to meet and amend their report accordingly.

When the deal resurfaced for consideration and approval, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, the Minority Caucus was still not convinced that some aspects of the deal were not in the best interest of Ghanaians.

After back and forth argument over the deal, a voice vote was called with the Majority which has been able to whip enough of their members to the chamber winning.

However, the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, was not enthused with the outcome of the voice vote and therefore pleaded with the Speaker for a headcount.

The First Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, having listened and accepted their plea directed for the headcount with the Majority Caucus winning by 102 against 58 polled by the Minority.

Moments after the approval of the Ghana-Fly Zipline drone deal, the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Hon. Casiel Ato Forson, told journalists that the US$145,000 service charge was a rip off to the nation.

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