Medical insurance for truck drivers during COVID-19: Need of the hour

To aid the general population, the Centre has allowed seamless movement of cargo vehicles across the country in order to transport essential items and services throughout. However, during this process, truck drivers and helpers have been putting their lives at risk. So for their welfare, the road transport ministry has asked the government to consider providing truck drivers and helpers with insurance covers.

Many other directives were discussed in a meeting held between ministerial groups that are dealing with cargo and logistics. A 24×7 helpline to provide assistance to truck drivers stuck at any location is also in the pipeline. Along with that, to facilitate seamless movement of cargo, the road transport ministry has also suggested that truck drivers be allowed to pass after checking their license, and that trucks should be allowed to go ahead without any stoppages, whether the truck is empty or loaded.

The need for insurance covers has arisen from truck drivers and helpers voicing their concerns for their own safety, stating that they have to go around different regions, thus being potentially exposed to Coronavirus, while they load and unload cargo.

In a statement, Kultaran Singh Atwal, Chief of All India Transport Congress (AITC), said, “The government has been taking corrective steps since the lockdown was announced. But in some cases, these have not reached the ground and so we have problems of truck drivers being held up, unnecessarily detained. Drivers are ready to go to any part provided they don’t face any harassment.”.

As per S P Singh from Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, “These are welcome steps. However, everything hinges on economic activities because of the prevailing situation. Factories are shut, warehouses are closed and distributors are not operating. So, how will there be generation of cargo? There are both supply and demand side issues.”.

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