April 15, 2021

A corruption investigation uncovers lack of security in Galician ambulances | Society

A corruption investigation uncovers lack of security in Galician ambulances | Society



The millionaire contest organized by the Xunta in 2014 to select the concessionaires that manage emergency ambulances in Galicia it was celebrated preceded by an act of supernatural appearance. Companies that were later successful bidders commissioned more than 80 vans (75% of the fleet) with the novel features required in the specifications even before these requirements were published in the Official Gazette of Galicia. After three years of investigations, the Court of Instruction Number 2 of Santiago has gathered evidence that the origin of the phenomenon is rather earthly.

The researchers maintain that the firms benefited by the distribution, among which Ambuibérica, the largest company in the sector in Spain and that is directed by a former mayor of the PP in Castilla y León, enjoyed "privileged information" provided by the regional administration. The investigations have uncovered that this alleged corruption has also led to a lack of safety of 061 vehicles, which, according to an expert report commissioned by the police, poses a risk to workers and patients.

A technical industrial engineer to whom the police entrusted a surprise inspection in the 11 contractor companies discovered that all ambulances chosen at random, a total of about twenty, suffered from a worrying excess of weight. In his report, signed in September 2017 and incorporated into the judicial summary, the expert warns that the vehicles exceeded an average of 300 kilos the maximum authorized mass in the regulations, an irregularity that "drastically increases" the "probability of occurrence an accident "taking into account the" aggressive driving "characteristic of the service. "All this causes the vehicle to become unpredictable in its maneuverability and very dangerous to drive," he concludes. One of the vans had been circulating for a year and a half "With an excess of mass of 860 kilos".

The Government of Alberto Núñez Feijóo criticizes the report and estimates that "the weighing carried out by the judicial police did not apply the appropriate criteria." However, after knowing its contents for being present in the case, he assures that "he asked the concession companies that had to adapt to the weight and safety conditions according to current regulations", and commissioned an expert report to an external engineering company. industrial "that confirms the safety of the care units". According to documentation that this newspaper has had, that expert opinion with which the Xunta considers the safety of the fleet to be accredited was carried out in 25 ambulances, although in the work method it is not specified if the inspection was by surprise and choosing the vans to Chance like the police.

Unlike the Xunta, Ambuibérica, the largest contractor, admits that its ambulances and those of the rest of concessionaires circulated until 2018 with "overweight" but, according to a company spokesman, after being alerted by the Xunta "the problem not only it was corrected ", but that the vans" have already had several inspections and no irregularities have been detected ". The firm based in Valladolid blames this dangerous breach of the regulations to the "practices" of the car body Rodriguez Lopez Auto "in the construction of the drawer that carry the vehicles." This company from Ourense is also being investigated for being the one that supposedly blew the requirements of the contest to the companies that won it.

Investigators of the case, opened in 2015 for alleged prevarication and influence peddling after the complaint of a businessman who did not achieve the contract and who alerted the Xunta to the irregularities beforehand, have also detected "falsehood" in the technical documentation of the ambulances that accredited that they were homologated according to the norm in force without that thus it was. "Ambuibérica and its surroundings knew in advance that the contracting authority [la fundación de la Xunta Urxencias Sanitarias de Galicia-061] he was not going to act against him when the excesses of the masses were detected or the lack of conformity of the homologations with the norm, "says the latest police report, incorporated into the summary at the end of December. The agents maintain that the crash tests that the sanitary vans have to overcome were not made correctly and that the vehicles used "low quality materials".

The case is being investigated a 061 technician, Manuel Alende Maceira, who according to the judge in 2016, exercised a "special" role of advising his superiors in "technical aspects", despite having a professional category of administrative and to be licensed in Geography and History. The investigators maintain that this public employee provided "privileged information" about the contest to the body of Rodríguez López Auto, which was the one that in turn adapted the vehicles of Ambuibérica and most of the contractors to the new requirements of the contest that they knew before. that was summoned. In its last report incorporated to the case, the judicial police assures that the manager of this workshop, José Enrique Rodríguez Jorge, who also declared as investigated, also issued the presumably false certificates that the ambulances complied with the regulations.

According to the police, thanks to the tip-off, Ambuibérica and the rest of the concessionaires -the latter are Galician companies that the investigation links with the one led by the former mayor of the PP in Castilla y León, Carlos Magdaleno-, managed the ambulances demanded by the Xunta in a while record and at a more competitive price than the other candidates, who for the purchase and transformation of the vehicles had a tight deadline of five and a half months since the specifications was published on November 26, 2014. Ambuibérica, however, is declared "injured" by the serious irregularities uncovered by the judicial investigation and denies having benefited from privileged information.

"The environment of Ambuibérica and RLA [Rodríguez López Auto] not only did they have information since June 2014, but they also knew that the contract was to be extended for public interest reasons for another six months. For that reason, their maneuvering time was extended to almost one year compared to the competition ", affirms the police, which extends the responsibilities for the presumed adjustment of the contest to various people in charge of the foundation of emergencies of the Xunta and of the concession companies. The director of the regional entity during the contest was relieved last November, one month before this police report.

Delfa Losa, lawyer of the company that took the contest to court, is surprised that the Xunta, before the revelations of the summary, has not opened to the successful bidders "a file for breach of contract." The Ambulances Dorado representative has also decided to broaden her request for charges against the 061 charges and the concessionaires appointed by the police.

The adjudicators under suspicion say that the money does not reach them

S. V.

In addition to alleged corruption and lack of security, the ambulance contest that the Government of Alberto Núñez Feijóo managed in 2014 has resulted in a labor dispute. The workers of the concessionaires started a strike schedule on Friday after the awardees have assured that they can not guarantee the payment of their salaries beyond March 31 because the money paid by the Xunta does not reach them.

The companies obtained the contract under suspicion with an offer of 115 million to provide the service for five years extendable to two, which is six million less than the initial price set by the regional government. Now, however, they claim that this amount is not enough due to "supervening" circumstances. Although initially Feijóo reminded the companies that when presenting offers "have to see that they cover the costs", the Galician Government has finally agreed to renounce the extension and accelerate the call for a new contest. The opposition asks him to discard the concession to private companies and rescue the service.

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