‘Allow trucks to reach their destination’: Industry body urges Centre, States

The drivers and helpers are facing acute anxiety and hardship, says All India Motor Transport Congress chief

It’s an SOS from the transport sector to the Centre as thousands of trucks carrying goods, including essential items, are stranded on the highways across the country as States closed their borders.

The lockdown is going to make the situation worse.

“The drivers and helpers are stranded on the highways without food and water. They are facing acute anxiety and hardship. Urgent directions are required from the Centre to States to allow trucks to reach their destinations, and to help the drivers come out of the distress,” said Kultaran Singh Atwal, President of All India Motor Transport Congress, the apex body of road transport sector.

A video on the social media shows that thousands of trucks are parked bumber-to-bumper on the highways. “The States/Union Territories be directed to allow goods carrying vehicles into their cities so that there is no scarcity of food items, medicines and other essential goods,” he said.

Double whammy

The road transport sector is an essential services provider to the common man and is the “backbone of the economy” and lifeline of the nation. Trucks move 70 per cent of the nation’s goods by weight. It is highly unorganised and consists of small operators, with about 85 per cent of the trucking population having less than 10 trucks.

More than 20 crore people are dependent on this sector, which is in deep distress.

The road transport sector, which is worst impacted with economic slowdown and Covid-19, is in dire need of a lifeline. Many operators are unable to service their EMIs and other statutory obligations like fitness, permit fees, insurance, or other taxes, which need to be considered empathetically to help them sustain and survive the extreme adverse conditions.

“We request from the Government to consider deferment of EMIs by six months; Extension of validity of fitness, permit fees, road tax, goods tax, third-party insurance, taxes be extended by six months and no penal action on expiry of E-way bill for goods in transit, Atwal said.