PMB ventilators heading for the USA, because SA’s red tape drowning them

A blessing is the ability to clear my mind at the end of a working day, no matter how intense. It’s something learned during years as a reporter on daily newspapers. In that job, you soon realise what seems so terribly important today is simply fish and chips wrapping tomorrow.

The acquired habit has worked well for me lately after some late-in-the-day interviews for our Inside Covid-19 podcast. Including last night after checking progress at Clifford Engineering. The Maritzburg engineering company had answered a Thuma Mina call to make world class ventilators abandoned more than a decade back because public sector gatekeepers demanded bribes which the company refused to pay.

It turns out that the KZN engineering company’s effort to help supply some of the thousands of ventilators SA needs, has drowned in red tape. The directors say while those at the top may see the urgency, mindless worthies responsible for placing orders for the equipment insist on certification that moves slower than your average garden snail.

As a result, the PMB company has turned its attention to America, where US authorities have a fast tracked process designed to get ventilators into hospitals with all due haste. Seems despite our proud boast, not all South Africans are great in a crisis. If you ever thought education was expensive, consider the combination of ignorance with power.

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