Over 90,000 trucks today stayed off road in Punjab to protest against the state government’s move to disband truck unions. There was a complete ‘chakka jam’ in the state as 93,000 trucks remained off road, All Punjab Truck Operators’ Union, president, Happy Sandhu said today. We neither transported goods nor foodgrain in protest against the state government’s move of disbanding the 134 truck unions operating in the state, said Sandhu. Truck operators have been protesting against a recent decision of the Punjab cabinet which had approved the Punjab Goods Carriages (Regulation and Prevention of Cartelisation Rules), 2017, which bars goods carriage operators from forming cartels or unions in the state.
The truckers’ protest remained by and large peaceful, but protesting truck operators blocked traffic at a few places, said Sandhu. The truckers also raised anti-government slogans at several places, he said. Sandhu said the truckers will intensify their protest if the state government did not roll back its decision. “Punjab Markfed Chairman Amarjit Singh Samra today met us at Nakodar. He assured us that the issue will be addressed,” said Sandhu. Truck operators claimed that because of the abolition of truck unions, small truck operators would suffer the most as the big companies would take over the operations. There are at present 134 truck unions comprising 93,000 trucks in the state, he said adding 70 per cent of truck operators were engaged in the transportation of foodgrain.
Notably, once the Punjab Goods Carriages (Regulation and Prevention of Cartelisation Rules), 2017 comes into force, no operator or permit holder of goods carriages shall be allowed to form a cartel, and thus denying freedom of choice to the consignors and consignees to engage the services of such operators or permit holders. The rules also provide that no operator or a permit holder of goods carriages shall stop any operator or a permit holder of goods carriages who wishes to pick up goods from any town or city within Punjab in the normal course of their business.