Jagatsinghpur: Owners of eight ambulances who have engaged their vehicles to shift coronavirus patients and suspected cases in the district threatened to withdraw their vehicles.
The reasons they cited are that they are not being given the fare as it was decided, drivers are not being provided food and even though the drivers are spending time with COVID-19 patients and suspects, their care is not being taken. Instead, they have continuously been neglected.
Apart from government ambulances and vehicles, eight private ambulances and 10 Boleros have been engaged to ferry COVID-19 patients and suspects.
Ambulance owner Anjan Pradhan and driver Prabhat Panda alleged that they were told at the very beginning that the total of the fares would be calculated after every 15 days and paid. Similarly, Rs 120 would be given to each and every driver towards their food expenses. “Two months have since passed. But we are yet to get our ambulance fares. The promised Rs 120 a day has also not been given to the drivers,” they added.
“At a time when people are maintaining a safe distance from coronavirus infected persons, we are spending times with them. Meanwhile many drivers have opted out from driving ambulances after they fell sick. Yet we are providing our service,” they said.
Remembering May 30 when he had to sleep on the district headquarters hospital premises, Anjan said that day he had been out for COVID-19 work from the morning and returned to the DHH at night. “I could not get anything to eat but few pieces of bread that day. And I had to sleep on the hospital premises. At a time when we cannot visit our families, the financial crisis is hitting us hard,” he added.
“Prior to this, we had decided to stop the service on three different occasions. But each time the administration intervened and promised to settle our dues at the earliest but later forgot our problems,” he alleged.
When contacted, chief district medical officer (CDMO) Dr Bijaya Panda said efforts are on to release their dues. Soon they will get their money. They have been asked not to stop their COVID-19 duties.