JAKARTA, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian government has planned to operate hospital ships for people in remote areas, Indonesia Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said here Monday.
The minister said a hospital ship would first serve small islands around East Java Province's island of Madura.
"In Madura's Sumenep isles, healthcare is direly needed by people living in those islands. Besides providing healthcare for the people, the ship can accommodate several passengers," the minister said in a statement.
Besides East Java, similar hospital ships are also expected to be in place in Riau isles and in easternmost province of Papua, he said, adding that six to nine ships are expected to be put into use this year.
The government has allocated 222 billion rupiah (about 15.3 million U.S. dollars) this year to procure 20 ships tasked to serve sea transport in the country.
Budi said operation of the ships with dual functions to serve passengers and to provide healthcare is highly effective to comply with the needs of people in remote areas in Indonesia.