Visakhapatnam: Ambulance tariff cap to curb exploitation
- Tariff for ambulance service fixed for different vehicles
- A series of incidents made district administration to place a cap on tariff
- Stern action will be taken against erring ambulance drivers
Visakhapatnam: Three weeks ago, ambulance drivers at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam reportedly attacked family members of a maternity patient and demanded money for offering free service. According to the victims, the drivers of Talli-Bidda Express, an ambulance service dedicated for pregnant women and newborns, assaulted them physically when they refused to pay the money charged to get dropped off at home.
In another shocking incident that happened recently in Nellore district, a grief-stricken father carried the dead body of his eight-year-old son in his lap by riding a two-wheeler when an ambulance driver refused to provide service.
In the month of April, a man carried the body of his 10-year-old-son on a motorbike when the ambulance driver at a government-run hospital in Tirupati charged a hefty amount for the service. Unable to meet the driver's demand, the man carried the body on the two-wheeler to Chitvel, travelling 90-km from Tirupati.
The recent incidents with ambulance drivers, including government and private operators, have certainly drawn flak from various quarters. With the drivers trying to cash in on the vulnerable situation, the victims, however, continue to suffer. In order to place a check on the looting exercise, the district administration has placed a cap by fixing the charges for the ambulance services.
In connection to this, a committee was formed to decide the charges for the ambulance services. The committee members comprise Principal of Andhra Medical College, King George Hospital Superintendent, District Transport Officer, District Medical and Health Officer and Assistant Commissioner of Police.
Based on the distance covered, the committee members fixed a tariff for the service. The tariff includes Rs 1,000 per 10 km for a small ambulance and Rs 20 per km after every 10 km; Rs 1,500 per 10 km for a big vehicle and Rs 25 per km after every 10 km.
Deputy Transport Commissioner GC Raja Ratnam advised the ambulance owners and drivers not to charge beyond the fixed tariffs. With the new tariff for the service coming into force with immediate effect, the DTC mentioned that vehicles will be seized if any ambulance driver resorts to collecting tariffs in excess from the patients.