The COVID-19 pandemic is something that will not go away anytime soon. It has been demonstrated, explained and shown in various advertisements. Various sectors are reporting losses and few businesses have had to shut down. In the midst of all this, only one sector has been at it and relentlessly serving mankind, losses notwithstanding. It has relatively gone unnoticed and unthanked most of the times. We are referring to the transport and logistics sector. Order something from Amazon or Flipkart and it still reaches you. Thank the logistics for it. Your daily quota of milk and vegetables is brought in through the transport system. Express Drives happened to check with a few logistics as well as transport players on the situation during the second wave of the pandemic. The sector which has become a life-saver for us has ended up with huge losses, if the aggregators are to be believed.
One of the primary reasons is that there still is no loan deferring facility provided. Unlike the first wave wherein the central government had requested banks to provide a temporary solution wherein the loan EMIs could be paid at a later stage without any penalty, there is none this time. “The unorganised sector is not a preferred loan portfolio at the current time. Those that are organised part of the sector will in all likelihood get some support but not “happily” and not without increased conditions”, said Anjani Mandal, CEO, Fortigo Logistics.
On being asked if the logistics sector has had to face any other hardships, Anjani said
The reality is that the long-distance trucks have already shrunk by 30% since Jan 2020 & the supply-demand equation is completely altered. It is altered to the extent that the number of trucks required at each shipping point to every destination are often in short supply already. True that essential services are allowed - however, drivers themselves are hesitating to undertake journey since return loads availability within 1-2 days & wait-times for unloading are delayed in over 25% of instances The fuel savings on the roads are not as significant as most of the route is on the highway and the pick-up/drop is mostly at city outskirts from industrial areas
Rakesh Munnanooru, Founder & CEO, WhistleDrive told us that
Times like these show the necessity for an efficient and much more predictable supply chain. Our Technology Platform has helped our clients manage the supply crunch due to the second wave impact. We have seen a huge spike in on-demand requests over the past few weeks. With safety as a priority, we have been running Virtual Safety Training for our ground staff on covid protection which is working really well for us. And to stand by our country in this unimaginable crisis, we have associated with a few NGOs in Hyderabad to transport Covid supplies primarily to semi-urban and rural areas.
Prasad Sreeram, Founder & CEO, Cogos had a different viewpoint. He said
Even as the pandemic continues to rage in every nook and cranny of the country, logistics companies bear the brunt of a lockdown economy where ‘delivery timelines’ have become a priority. Logistics service providers came under the category of ‘essential services’ in line with the government and healthcare services. Enterprises (both online or offline) are seeing huge orders for contactless delivery of essentials. We have to ensure the maximisation and utilisation of our driver fleet, especially as some of them are affected by covid-19. The logistics sector is also tying up with different organisations in order to transport oxygen cylinders and concentrators to hospitals and care centers across the country. Truckers, transporters and delivery partners are the ones saving the day.
Pushkar Singh, CEO & co-founder, LetsTransport reaffirmed the thoughts by saying
We as a country are going through extremely difficult times and every sector is dealing with multiple challenges. The last mile logistics sector has been playing a key role in this second wave. Companies are focusing heavily on delivering essential products for the ease of the common man. The logistics sector is also tying up with different organisations in order to transport oxygen cylinders and concentrators to hospitals across the country. We as a sector are bringing a huge difference in managing the ongoing oxygen shortage throughout the country and all the companies are working tirelessly to solve for this crisis.
Be kind and thankful to your milkman, or paper delivery boy. They are your last-mile delivery partners and are risking their lives to ensure that the one you live right now runs smoothly.
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