Truck operators body AIMTC on Sunday said 65 per cent of the total trucks in the country are sitting idle due to spiralling fuel prices, corruption and no tangible relief to transporters, hit hard by COVID-19. All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is the apex body of transporters, representing about 95 lakh truckers and other entities.
Unbridled hike in fuel prices and rampant extortion at border check-posts in states have hit truckers hard, and if the government fails to intervene, disruption of transport services cannot be ruled out, AIMTC said.
Diesel price on Sunday hit a fresh record high after rates were hiked by 60 paise per litre, while petrol price was up 35 paise, taking the cumulative increase in rates in 15 days to Rs 8.88 a litre and Rs 7.97, respectively.
“The operations are increasingly becoming unviable as about 60 per cent of the transport operating cost is of diesel and about 20 per cent constitute Toll. Already, the demand is low and the idling of the vehicles is at about 65 per cent. More and more small operators are going bust and vehicles are coming to a halt,” AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal told.
The government failed to provide any tangible relief to the road transport sector or provide any facilitating environment to the segment for a come-back, he said, adding extortion of truckers was also rampant in different states.
“Inspite of writing to the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the situation at the ground has not changed. The corruption in various states like in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi etc at the hands of RTOs and police is getting unbearable,” AIMTC said.
Apart from RTOs, police and GST officials also are extorting money even from the law abiding truckers, it added.
“In the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra Rs 1,200 to Rs 3,000 per vehicle per entry is being charged by the local mafia deployed at the borders by RTOs and on refusal vehicle is detained and fined on vague pretexts. The drivers and truckers are being intimidated by local goons on rolls of the local RTOs on reasoning the daylight loot,” Atwal alleged.
In Rajasthan the GST officials in collusion with unscrupulous traders and transporters allow evasion of tax against personal gratification and added even those who abide by the law are not spared and they are being asked to pay up monthly or face hefty penalties and detention of vehicle on the charge of transportation of undervalued goods, he added.
“The small operators are unable to pay EMIs and interest. There are reports of harassment by Bank officials threatening the vehicle owners for seizing of the vehicles. Under the circumstances, plying of vehicles are being tough increasingly,” said AIMTC Secretary General Naveen Gupta.
Earlier the organisation had sought a minimum rescue package from the government saying that the truckers have been hit hard due to COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown.