93,000 trucks stay off roads, demand roll back of Punjab govt’s move to disband unions
No transport of foodgrain: Truckers say small operators cannot compete with large transport firms; seek a meeting with CM before July 17punjab Updated: Jul 09, 2017 22:53 IST
Over 90,000 trucks remained off road on Sunday against the state government’s decision to disband truck unions. Truck operators have been protesting against the decision of the Punjab cabinet to approve the Punjab Goods Carriages (Regulation and Prevention of Cartelisation Rules), 2017, which bars goods carriage operators from forming cartels or unions. The government feels that industry is shifting from Punjab to other states due to the monopoly of truck unions and unattractive prices.
All Punjab Truck Operators’ Union, president, Happy Sandhu said, “All our 134 unions with 90,000 trucks, 70% of them engaged in the transportation of foodgrain, did not operate on Sunday to support this one-day ‘Chakka Jam.”
In Patiala, truckers gathered at a tea stall, claiming that most owners had loans of up to Rs 30 lakh on their fleet of trucks. “Our trucks will be rendered useless and we will be left out of business. Who will pay our loans?” was the common refrain.
“Members of the core committee of all unions in the state will meet on July 17 to decide our next course of action. The state government must meet us before that,” Sandhu added, claiming that truck operators would go on an indefinite strike if the state government failed to provide them any solution. Rubbishing claims of the government that the flow of industrial investment was affected due to truck unions, Sandhu said, “Industrialists are happy with our services and rates. Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Batala have no truck union, yet industrialists closed their units there and moved to Himachal Pradesh, which has one of the biggest unions in the country.”
Punjab Markfed chairman and senior Congress leader Amarjit Singh Samra met the union members at Nakodar on Sunday.
“I will arrange a meeting of the operators with the CM within this week,” Samra told HT.
10,000 TRUCKS DID NOT PLY IN BATHINDA
In Bathinda district, 10,000 trucks did not ply with local unions holding complete strike in Rampura Phul, Rama Mandi, Bhuccho and Dabwali. Fuel pump owners reported “zero sale” of diesel. In Mansa, there was complete Chakka jam.
Dabwali, which is the junction of trucks plying from across the adjoining states of Haryana and Rajasthan witnessed thousands of trucks lined up as the truckers turned down consignments at the Bathinda Oil Refinery and the NFL, hitting supplies.
“The decision will hit over 4 lakh people engaged in the trade. Small truck operators cannot compete with large transport firms. We have no option but to protest, if the state government does not review its decision,” Sandhu claimed.
In Amritsar, trucks did not move at Attari, while in Ajnala, it remained business as usual.
(With inputs from Amritsar, Bathinda and Jalandhar)