Lockdown: From loads of rotten vegetables to high entry fee, truckers face hassles; AIMTC warns of disruptions

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Published: May 10, 2020 8:18 PM

Despite Ministry of Home Affairs orders to ensure hassle-free movment of essentials and goods, situation is worsening on the ground and if the government fails to intervene trucks will be off roads, says AIMTC, which represents about 95 lakh truckers and entities.

Barely 30 per cent of the total trucks are on roads with the government allowing movement of goods, but if it fails to intervene into matter, days will be not far off when there will be shortage of drivers and essential supplies could be disrupted. (IE)

From fruits and vegetables worth Rs 9 crore in 300 trucks getting rotten to exorbitant entry fee at some state borders, many truckers are a hassled lot despite guidelines in place for transporters, with truckers’ grouping cautioning of possible supply disruptions. Instances are pouring in from Assam, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana among others as to how the drivers are subjected to torture and misbehaviour with transporters, according to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which also said there would be supply disruptions if their “corona warriors” are subjected to such inhuman treatment.

Despite Ministry of Home Affairs orders to ensure hassle-free movment of essentials and goods, situation is worsening on the ground and if the government fails to intervene trucks will be off roads, says AIMTC, which represents about 95 lakh truckers and entities.

“About 300 vehicles carrying fruits and vegetables bound for Delhi were stopped at Behrod (Rajasthan) on Saturday for 4-5 hours and after persuasion with authorities they were allowed to move on but again they were stopped at Shahjahanpur Border (Rajasthan). The police even used lathis on drivers and broke glass panes of some vehicles to divert them back to Rajasthan,” AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal told PTI. Despite AIMTC’s late night efforts the police personnel drove them back to Rajasthan, which resulted in spoiling of fruits and vegetables and huge monetary losses to the transporters, Atwal said.

“Even as per rough estimates, not less than Rs 900 lakh worth of fruits and vegetables were subjected to rot, if we conservatively estimated only Rs 3 lakh worth of fruits in vegetables in each of the 300 trucks that were stopped and then sent back,” AIMTC Secretary General Naveen Gupta said. He further said this is only one such instance and similar incidents had taken place in other states with situation worsening day after day.

Barely 30 per cent of the total trucks are on roads with the government allowing movement of goods, but if it fails to intervene into matter, days will be not far off when there will be shortage of drivers and essential supplies could be disrupted, Gupta added. He said a large number of drivers were approaching AIMTC for support from Madhya Pradesh and other states, saying illegal extortions ranging from Rs 800 to 3,000 for “entry” into the state has become common there.

In a video, drivers — with their truck numbers UP 21 BN 8896 and UP 21BN 9457 — are heard saying to AIMTC officials from the Madhya Pradesh border that they are being charged Rs 800-1,000 fee for crossing the border.
“It has been reported that it is police only who forcibly make the truckers carry labourer migrants in Indore and Devas Naka out of humanitarian concern. But the RTOs through the Transport department got all checkpost activated and they are allowing such vehicles carrying passengers by extorting money and those not able to pay are detained and FIR lodged against them,” Atwal said.

In an another recorded message a driver Suraj Singh vehicle HR 57A0281 is heard saying that he was carrying material to Nagpur from Bhatinda Refinery with Deputy Commissioner’s permission but his license was taken and a challan was slapped on him.

AIMTC said cases have been reported from Mizoram where four trucks carrying goods for BSNL have been stopped at Baring Border, and on Eastern & Western Peripheral highway where vehicles have been stopped and drivers beaten and documents were taken.

“The past few days has thrown up stark reality with cases of corruption, harassment and extortion by law enforcers and their agents emanating from various parts of the country,” AIMTC officials said adding “the police, control room numbers from MHA do not help on the ground”.

Stating that more than 20 crore people are directly and indirectly dependent on this sector, AIMTC has demanded a rescue and relief package. “There is no revenue generation, no financial inflows as payments from parties are restrained and existing finance with the small operators as well as that of big operators is depleting fast. The small operators (more than 85 per cent of the lot) do not have enough resources to sustain their families and won’t be able to pay for the statutory and regulatory compliances even few months after the normalcy is restored,” it said.

The Road Transport and Highways Ministry earlier this month had said that it is serious to ensure faster resolution of complaints by drivers and transporters engaged in goods supply during the lockdown and has decided to depute highways ministry officials in the control rooms set up under the Home Ministry.

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