The cost of essential commodities and other goods could increase due to a hike of around 15% in freight charges this week, transporters said on Monday. The increase in freight rates is mainly due to a 40% shortage of drivers of heavy goods vehicles in the state. Bal Malkit Singh of All-India Motor Transport Congress said, “The increase in freight charges will escalate transportation costs of traders, which will impact the final price of products. The common man will have to bear the brunt and costs.”
The increase could be expected in prices of rice, pulses, fruits, vegetables, manufacturing and industrial goods and specially those brought through long distance journeys to Mumbai, transporters said.
Ashok Goyal of Bombay Goods Transport Association said during the March-May quarter, most drivers go to their native place due to the wedding and crop harvesting season. “Almost 20% of our vehicles are lying idle due to the driver shortage in Mumbai. During this quarter, the situation got worse as almost 40% vehicles are off the roads,” he said, adding, “This leads to a surge in pricing and freight rates have gone up by almost 15% and may surge up to 25% in the coming weeks.”
Another transporter said the freight hike could last till May-end, and when drivers return from their native places, prices could fall from June. “This is the peak season when transportation costs are high,” Singh pointed out. He said transporters were trying their best to retain as many drivers as possible so that prices are controlled. “Driver shortage has been a problem for very long. We expect more drivers to join our trade so that we can tackle the 20% shortage which is round-the-year,” he added.