Coronavirus lockdown: Only 10% of inter-state trucks running, says AITWA

It also sought health insurance cover to each truck driver. (Representative image)

With only 1.5 lakh or about 10% of nation-permit trucks now plying on the roads, potentially aggravating supply of essentials and perishables, the All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) has demanded immediate steps for hassle-free movement of these vehicles across state-borders. It also sought health insurance cover to each truck driver.

“The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has issued a few directions in the last 2-3 weeks to facilitate movement of trucks, but these haven’t really been implemented in most areas. Even though the ministry gave fresh orders on April 15, no state government has issued follow-up orders so far,” AITWA joint secretary Abhishek Gupta told FE.

Gupta said out of a sample of 1.5 lakh trucks that AITWA tracks, only about 10% are running more than 10 km/day. There are about 90-95 lakh trucks in the country, out of which 15 lakh are national-permit ones, which carry both essential and non-essential goods across the country.

The latest MHA order stressed on the movement of trucks from April 20 to clear the  logistics  logjam to ease supply of daily staples and other essential supplies across the country.

Before the lockdown was enforced on March 24, trucks running with load got stopped in the highways because drivers were not getting food anywhere. As a consequence, many drivers abandoned the vehicles and went back to their villages. “The main issue now is how to move back drivers from their villages to trucks,” Gupta said. To address this issue, AITWA has started a portal to issue e-passes to drivers via transporters. The drivers can tag along running trucks to come back to their destinations using the e-passes.

Gupta said each driver should be offered Rs 50 lakh health insurance (on the lines of the one announced by the Centre for health workers) to encourage drivers to resume operations. Gupta said this demand needs to be addressed quickly by the Centre. The e-passes issued by AITWA could be used as proof of each driver on duty for insurance purposes, he added.

Among other measures, the transport association is distributing food to 10,000 stranded drivers across the country on a daily basis, he said.

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