Commuters rush to purchase helmets, sellers in short supply
Since the implementation of the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Haryana from September 1, which steeply raised the penalties for traffic violations, the sale of helmets has almost doubled across Gurugram. However, vendors say they are facing problems in procuring the helmets as the suppliers are unable to keep up with the sudden surge in the market demand.
At Gaushala auto market on Old Delhi Road, a vendor said that he is selling 20 to 22 helmets per day in comparison to selling eight to nine helmets before September 1. Another vendor near Sheetla Mata Mandir said that while earlier he was selling 20 helmets per day, he is now selling close to 35 helmets. A vendor located near the Nehru stadium, who sells helmets along with auto parts, also said that the sale has almost doubled.
“Customers are scared now. As such, they are rushing to buy the helmets,” Jai Dev, a helmet shop owner said. He has been selling helmets for the past 20 years at the Gaushala auto market on Old Delhi Road but has never seen such a high demand for the safety gear. He was selling around 25 helmets per day that has now increased to 45.
His shop was flooded with customers looking for new helmets and automobile parts on Tuesday afternoon. One of them was Anil, a resident of Gurugram who runs a carpentry shop. He bought two black-coloured full-face helmets worth ₹600 each. “I have never worn a helmet to be honest. But now I have to buy them not only for myself but also for the carpenters who work at my shop and visit the houses of our customers. I can’t afford to pay fines worth thousands,” he said.
According to the traffic police, between September 1 and 17, they have issued 238 challans to the riders caught without a helmet in Gurugram. According to the amendment, the violators now pay a fine ₹1,000 and their driving licences are cancelled for three months. Earlier, the fine was for just ₹100. Before the implementation of the MVA, traffic police had issued 35,236 challans for not wearing helmet between January and August, with an average of around 4,404 challans per month.
Himanshu Garg, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), traffic said that the number of challans issued was lower this month because the police were focussing on first creating awareness and updating their machines to issue the revised challans. “This is a transition period. But the steep fines are already proving to be a deterrent for people. There is more awareness now. People are rushing to get pollution certificates and helmets,” he said.
According to the vendors, most of the customers are buying helmets in the price range of ₹500 to ₹1,500, marked by the Indian Standards Institute (ISI), to be sure of the quality of the product.
“Only a few people are opting for the cheaper varieties. They know that the police might stop them and issue a challan if their helmet does not have an ISI mark. Customers are, therefore, opting for mid-range helmets, which are also of good quality,” Jai Dev said.
The rise in demand for helmets has increased the business of vendors but there has been a shortage of supply on the part of the wholesalers. The wholesalers based in Delhi and Gurugram confirmed that they do not have enough stock to sell to the retailers as the manufacturers have not been able to meet the demand. Due to this, there has been a slight increase of around ₹50 in the prices of the helmets.
Vishnu Rai, a wholesale dealer of helmets, said that his warehouse located in Karol Bagh is empty and yet to be replenished as of Thursday. “I sell 500 helmets per day. But after the increase in the fines, there has been a huge demand. I sold around 900 helmets per day after September 1. The manufacturers were not ready for this. I hope things will get normal within a week or two.”
Another wholesaler based in Karol Bagh said that he did not have stock in his warehouse and the rise in demand of helmets is all over India. “The manufacturers are giving their stock to other parts of the country. We do not have the stock currently,” said Sumit Thakkar, owner of a wholesale helmet shop.
As the stock has diminished, fear regarding the rise in helmet prices has gripped the wholesalers and vendors. Many of them fear that they will have to reach out to black market and purchase the helmets. In order to counter the shortage, the small-scale manufacturers based in Gurugram have doubled their production.
Sonu Gupta, who owns a helmet-making company and has a production plant in Daulatabad, said, “I was manufacturing around 500 helmets per day. Now, it has increased to 1,000. I have been informed that the three other manufacturers in Gurugram have also raised their production.”
Gupta, who is also a wholesaler, said that by September 5, he had sold out all of his stocks and had to begin producing more helmets. “I think that the shortage will not last for long. The manufacturers will be able to meet the demand in the market very soon,” he added.
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