Kochi (Kerala) [India], April 28 (ANI): With the increasing demand for hospital beds as well as ambulances amid the massive surge in COVID-19 cases in Kerala, Najeeb Vellakkal, owner of 'tempo travellers' in Kochi, has decided to convert his vehicles into ambulances.
Vellakkal says that there is a shortage of ambulances in the state.
Speaking to ANI, he said, "When one of my staff had tested positive for COVID-19, no ambulance was available to take him to his hometown in Palakkad. We tried hard to get an ambulance. As a consequence of its unavailability, I used one of my vehicles to take him to Palakkad. We removed the seats of the vehicle, separated the driver's cabin using a plastic sheet, and made him wear a PPE kit."
"Back then, I thought that it was difficult for ordinary people to get an ambulance in this situation. No other vehicles are being used as ambulances because of the fear of this deadly virus. There is a shortage of ambulances in Kerala. That's why I decided to do this," he added.
Vellakkal has been in the rental business of 'tempo travellers' for over 20 years.
"75 per cent of my drivers called me and said that they are ready to drive an ambulance in this crisis," he added.
He further said that the Kochi Mayor and Regional Transport Officer (RTO) had called him to appreciate his idea and promised their full support. They also suggested him to convert one vehicle into a COVID ambulance for a trial basis, he informed.
In order to convert his rental vehicles into ambulances, it will cost Rs 25,000, informed Vellakkal. However, he is willing to spend that amount of money with an intention of serving people.
"The ambulances will charge an affordable rate which will be enough to pay the driver and get fuel for the vehicle," he said.
As per the official data released by the union health ministry, Kerala has 2,47,514 active COVID-19 cases. Since the beginning of this pandemic last year, the state has recorded 5,170 COVID-19 deaths. (ANI)