Fad, Galang Island, Riau Island – The Galang Island special infection hospital task force in Riau Islands officially ceased its operation on Wednesday, but dozens of health workers complain that they have yet to be paid their meal allowances.
Brig. Gen. Yudi Yulistyanto, the task force commander, said that he had received an order on Nov. 25 to cease operations, but had only been able to do so on Wednesday.
"Today, the buildings should be emptied. I don't know what is next for the facility," Yudi told The Jakarta Post.
He said an initial plan was to turn the facility into a virus research center, but Yudi said he did not know whether this would go ahead.
Earlier this month, healthcare workers at the hospital staged a protest over unpaid meal allowances. Medical and non-medical workers have not received their allowances since April from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
The workers, who hail from all over the archipelago, were supposed to receive Rp 3 million (US$192) in allowances each month.
Yudi said that as the task force commander, he was responsible for solving the problem and promised to deal with the Finance Ministry and the BNPB.
"I'm asking them to be patient and pray as I try to resolve this problem in Jakarta," he said
At a ceremony to close the operations, Yudi gave award certificates to 139 health workers at the hospital.
Roni Hasan, a representative of the workers, said that they had decided to stay on the island until their allowances were paid, saying that they would stay at a mosque in front of the hospital.
Rhika Boru Simamora, one of the workers, said she was disappointed at how the government had treated them.
"We were given sweet promises, but now we're abandoned," she told the Post.
The temporary hospital started operation in April 2020 on the island, which is about 50 kilometers southeast of Batam and connected to Batam Island through a series of bridges and roads over several other islands. It has a total capacity of 340 beds and 20 observation rooms.
Galang Island hosted a former camp for Vietnamese refugees. Several of the site's buildings still remain since being used as a refugee camp from 1979 to 1996. (dre)