Parliament has finally approved the service agreement between Ghana and Zipline for the delivery of emergency health and blood products to public health facilities through drone technology, despite several objections raised on the terms of the agreement by the Minority.
The service agreement has finally been approved after three attempts were made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, to present its report and call for resolution and adoption.
The Minority in Parliament had raise several objections on the validity and terms of the agreement, and demanded for the amendment of some critical areas of the Committee’s report.
However, the Minority is still not satisfied with the service agreement presented to Parliament by the Health Ministry.
Minority’s Reaction after the Approval
Minority Spokesperson on Finance and Member for Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam, in an interview with the press indicated that the Zipline agreement has huge financial cost implications on the nation.
He averred that there was no value for money audit as stipulated in the Health Committee’s report on item 5.9.
He further explained that the agreement was “cooked” at the office of the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and that the Ministry of Finance was not consulted on the purchase of drones.
He further added that sole sourcing for the service agreement is one of the unfortunate procurement process employed in the Zipline agreement, since several competing firms offer almost the same services.
Agreement at the Plenary and Subsequent Objections
On November 22, 2018, the service agreement was presented in Parliament by the Minister for Health, Mr. Kwaku-Agyemang-Manu.
The service agreement was subsequently referred to the Committee on Health for consideration and report in accordance with Order 178 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
After the Committee presented its report at the Plenary for deliberations and approval, the service agreement was shot down by several objections raised by the Minority group on the terms of the agreement, value for money and its procurement process therein.
The Committee’s report was again referred to the Health Committee for amendment after a voice vote failed in passing a resolution on the service agreement.
After the amendment, the agreement was presented to the House for second consideration.
The Minority again objected the agreement on the grounds of lack of consultation by the government, and the Minority Leader and Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu after catching the Speaker’s eye, pursuant to Order 86 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, requested for a headcount.
The agreement was again referred to the Health Committee for further amendments.
The agreement was presented at the Plenary for headcount and resolution.
After the headcount, those who were against the agreement (That’s the Minority) were 58, and members who were for the agreement (the Majority) were 108.
A Resolution was passed and an approval was granted by the House pursuant to Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution, Order 148 of the Standing Orders and Sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).
Terms of the service agreement
According to the report, the service agreement is a performance-driven structure. The Ministry of Health bears no risk for installation, operation and maintenance.
The Ministry pays only when Zipline succeeds in setting up distribution centres and meet the performance specifications agreed to, in the service agreement.
The service agreement is expected to run for four years from the start of service at the first distribution centre and US$88,000 per distribution centre per month.
In the agreement, Zipline guarantees average emergency delivery time of less than an hour, at least 150 flights per distribution centre per day and all technical performance characteristics.
After the Committee’s report was amended for the third time, Zipline has been approved by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to fly its drones for the health delivery.
On Order Management Platform, Zipline is expected to provide an Order Management Platform that will receive orders via text messages, web, among other means.
The Committee observed that as part of the arrangements for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones), Zipline shall develop, finance, design, engineer, supply, construct, install, operate and maintain at least four distribution centres in the country.
The centres shall be situated on sites acquired by Zipline and located in the vicinity of the locations, which may be revised by mutual agreement of the the Parties to the Agreement.