The Dutch company SAR Systems and the International Centre for Emergency Techniques (ICET) have delivered 115 ambulances and fire engines to the Sri Lankan government.
The project has been funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ programme for development-related export transactions. The vehicles were presented to the Sri Lankan government by the Dutch ambassador in Colombo in early November.
Large areas of Sri Lanka were devastated by the tsunami of 26 December 2004. In addition to the main ORET project, the Netherlands has also helped re-establish the fire service in Galle, a port that was particularly badly affected. Emergency services in a further 18 towns have also been established or improved.
The ORET (development-related export transaction) programme, which has now been replaced by ORIO (Development-related Infrastructure Facility), allowed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make sustainable investments in the infrastructure of developing countries. In addition to the emergency vehicles, a firefighter training centre has also been set up.
Other activities to improve public safety in Sri Lanka include Dutch-trained instructors coaching more than 1000 Sri Lankan emergency service workers.
The Sri Lankan government has also been making investments, partly funded by Rabobank. Four cities now have an ambulance and fire service in place, and SAR Systems have supplied tsunami warning towers to warn the public in high-risk areas if a tsunami is feared or an is evacuation required.
The delivery of emergency vehicles to Sri Lanka shows what can be achieved when a relatively small, but specific, development cooperation investment is combined with input from the business community and the financial sector.