Police detectives deployed at both Uganda and DR Congo border are yet to trace a Shs 300 million ambulance that was allegedly stolen from the compound of Arua Regional Referral Hospital.
The Toyota Land Cruiser UG 6812 M was allegedly found missing after the Resident City Commissioner (RCC), Mr Martin Orochi made a request for an ambulance to transport two injured URA Enforcement Officers for treatment in Kampala about three days ago.
But his request was not granted after the hospital administration failed to find the ambulance where it had been parked. This left the hospital administrators and the RCC puzzled as the ambulance key remained with the in charge.
The Deputy Director Arua Regional Referral Hospital, Dr Gilbert Aniku, told this reporter yesterday that they had reported the case to police for investigation.
“I cannot give you more details yet because it is under investigation because we have reported the matter to the police,” he said.
Police on Tuesday evening arrested three security guards who are currently detained at Arua Central Police station to help with investigations. The ambulance was last year given to the health facility by Ministry of Health to handle emergency cases.
As part of the security measures, a driver signs in a book the time of departure of any hospital vehicle before leaving or after parking the vehicle.
The Officer in Charge CIID Arua Central Police Station, Mr Enoch Odong, said: “We cannot disclose their (arrested guards) because it may jeopardise investigations. But since there is a case opened, we are still following up and have not found it (ambulance),” he said.
The Resident City Commissioner, Mr Martin Orochi, said: “We have lost the recently donated ambulance. I am waiting to see the official position of the hospital. The public should help security in recovering the ambulance.”
He said the ambulance could have been driven to the neighbouring DR Congo or South Sudan.
“We cannot rule out our suspicion that this vehicle might have crossed to our neighboring countries like Congo or South Sudan,” he said.
Arua Regional Referral hospital has been grappling with cases of theft of equipment in the past, some of which are still under police investigations.
For instance, in February last year, an Autoclave machine and assorted tool kit worth Shs 500 million went missing. It was later recovered from Nebbi District.
In 2008, two microscopes were reported missing from the facility and caretakers of patients have frequently lost their motorcycles and bicycles parked inside the fence near the hospital gate.