Ever since the nationwide lockdown has come into effect, approximately 3.5 lakh trucks have been reported to be stranded at inter-state roads or makeshift parkings. The commercial vehicles have been recorded with goods, ranging from cars, SUVs, ACs, washing machines, electronics, chemicals, steel, refrigerators, cement, etc., worth over Rs. 35,000 crore being stuck.
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Transporters in the country have raised concerns over the safety of the goods, stating that since drivers and helpers are retreating back to their homes leaving goods unattended, they may be at risk for damage. Moreover, there is a constant problem of lack of labour to unload the goods, even once they actually reach the delivery destination.
Kultaran Singh Atwal, President, All India Motor Transport Corporation, said, “It is a painful situation for truckers and goods worth thousands of crores are literally lying on roads. Something should be done immediately to help us out.”
He added, “We are still facing curbs. They should help lift the restrictions so that trucks can move. It is a pitiable position with many trucks stranded at state borders or other check points. Many trucks are idling at parkings or other places.”.
As per Atwal, the need of the hour is for the government to facilitate seamless movement of commercial trucks and cargo, both essential and non-essential, so that the entire transportation network gets unblocked and supplies are restored.
Truckers across the country are facing the issue of lack of food, water and sanitation. Especially for the ones that are stuck at remote locations, the limited availability of resources has forced them to abandon their vehicles and trek back home.
Even though the government has laid directives to allow movement of trucks, empty or with cargo, to unclog the system, many checkpoints and highways are still restricting trucks to go on through.
For the aid of transporters and truck drivers facing problems, Pradeep Singal, Chairman, All India Transporters’ Welfare Association, says, “Please give an EMI break for at least six months to us, and also extend our national movement permits by same period. There should be half-year relief in payment of statutory road tax and goods tax payments.”