The water ambulance was given to Jamalganj Upazila Health Complex at the end of 2020
A water ambulance gifted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with the goal to ensure healthcare services to the people of haor region, has sunk into the Surma River in Jamalganj upazila of Sunamganj.
The boat, which lay idle for the past six months being docked in the launch terminal area unattended, disappeared into the river on Sunday with aggrieved locals pointing out the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned.
The upazila health officials, however, assured that the ambulance would be salvaged.
The water ambulance was allocated to Jamalganj Upazila Health Complex from Austagram upazila in Kishoreganj at the end of 2020, said sources at the health complex.
It was used then only once during the inspection of a community clinic in the locality.
An official of the health complex said as the maintenance cost of the ambulance was a bit high, it was not used much.
Locals alleged that the ambulance was not used in any emergency health care services until the day it sank.
It was left abandoned like the X-ray machine and dental equipment stored in the upazila health complex, they alleged.
Witnesses said the ambulance was tied to an electric pole in the launch terminal area.
Md Misbah Uddin, a civil rights activist in Sunamganj, said the incident was very unfortunate and the upazila health department cannot avoid its responsibility.
"It needs to look into this because the ambulance remained out of order for a long time instead of providing services," he added.
Jamalganj Upazila Parishad Chairman Iqbal Al Azad said the ambulance was allocated to the upazila for ensuring health services of the locals. "And, thus the overall responsibilities, including its maintenance, were shouldered on the local health department."
When asked about the maintenance cost and manpower set aside for the ambulance, Upazila Health Officer Dr Moin Uddin was reluctant to make any comments. "The process to salvage the ambulance is on," he only said.
Sunamganj Civil Surgeon Dr Shamsuddin said he was unaware of the issue as the river ambulance was brought to the upazila before he joined his post.