Devki Steel Mills has scaled up donation of oxygen to hospitals from the Sh100 million it had pledged last month until Covid-19 is wiped out in the country.
The owner billionaire Nerendra Raval said they had thought Sh 100 million worth of oxygen would be enough to help Covid-19 patients, but with the third wave hitting the country hard, saw the need to scale up the donations.
“When the first wave came, we established that Covid-19 patients need oxygen to survive. That is when I set aside Sh100 million to donate oxygen. Later when the third wave came in, I realized that the donation will be cleared up in two months, leaving patients suffering. That is when I committed to giving free oxygen until Covid-19 is cleared out,” he said during an interview with journalists at his Ruiru plant today.
He said since the announcement that the company will be giving oxygen to hospitals for free, the company gives out Sh3 million worth of oxygen each day, with orders coming from almost all the county governments.
He said given that there has been an acute shortage of oxygen in the country, there has been a rush from county governments to secure oxygen from their plants getting daily orders and having long queues which they have been able to manage and ensure everyone gets supplies.
“There has been an enormous rush of oxygen from all the counties as well as small and big hospitals. The queue is long and we make sure they come in shifts and that each gets their supplies. We have scaled up production of oxygen 24 hours each day to meet the demand,” he said.
He said they have also ordered 1,000 oxygen cylinders following a massive shortage in the country which will be delivered by the end of this week. An oxygen cylinder sells at Sh 3,000.
He called on those who have been receiving free oxygen from their company not to charge Covid-19 patients for the oxygen.
“If we give you free oxygen, we expect you to also not charge patients for their consumption. Like the Kiambu County, it has been treating Covid-19 patients for free,” he said.
In terms of operations, the industrialist said most companies, Devki included, had scaled down its operations by 50 per cent since Covid-19 struck and that they have been forced to downscale staff and production, affecting their stability.
He cited his company whereby they had to stop all the steel mills to run 24-hour production of oxygen which they give out for free.
He said industrialists and business people will feel the net effect of Covid-19 for the next five years and it will be difficult to resuscitate industries and the economy unless the government has measures to cushion them.
“Most industrialists were not prepared for closure. We have scaled down operations by half. Other companies have collapsed and it may take over five years to get up. We need full government support and protection for stability,” he said.
By Muoki Charles