Coronavirus outbreak: Drivers join migration queue, availability of trucks hit

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Published: May 12, 2020 12:15 AM

With drivers joining migrants rushing back home after recent relaxations in lockdown norms, the movement of national-permit trucks, which was showing signs of improvement in the past two weeks, is likely to take a hit again

Vehicle movement had just about reached 30% (of 15 lakh national permit trucks) till last week.

With drivers joining migrants rushing back home after recent relaxations in lockdown norms, the movement of national-permit trucks, which was showing signs of improvement in the past two weeks, is likely to take a hit again, All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) joint secretary Abhishek Gupta told FE.

“Vehicle movement had just about reached 30% (of 15 lakh national permit trucks) till last week. We fear the movement will dip this week due to the issue of drivers going back,” Gupta said. Huge shortage of trucks and trailers visible over the last weekend and today was due to migrant labours being given permission to go back to native states, he said.

The AITWA has received several communications from members over the weekend that drivers around many locations, including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Nagpur, have abandoned trucks/trailers to move to their hometowns.

“We attribute this directly to the slow response by the government to recognize the work of highway heroes (drivers) and give them Covid insurance,” Gupta said. Business being at an all-time low is also hitting the pockets of truck drivers, who are standing idle without any revenue and lack of basic facilities.

As many drivers were already stuck at their villages without any means to return, we fear this move will greatly impact transportation in the next few weeks,” Gupta said.

As many as 4.5 lakh national permit trucks were back on roads on Friday, up from 3.6 lakh plied on April 30, 1.5 lakh on April 20 and 1.2 lakh on April 12, in an indication of a gradual improvement in inter-state commerce. However, migration of drivers back home could complicate normalisation in the goods transport system.

Normalcy in business will return once truck movements reach over 10 lakh vehicles or 70% of the NP-registered ones that prevailed before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

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