In relief to truckers, govt opens highway repair shops, dhabas

Updated on Apr 16, 2020 03:59 AM IST

Movement of all trucks and other goods carriers, with two drivers and one helper, subject to the drivers carrying a valid driving license, will be allowed, the guidelines said, a day after the lockdown was extended until May 3.

The closure of truck repairers and eateries has proved to be an additional inconvenience.(File photo)
The closure of truck repairers and eateries has proved to be an additional inconvenience.(File photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAnisha Dutta

Truck repair shops and eateries located alongside highways will be allowed to reopen to serve truck drivers stuck across state border since the lockdown for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) went underway on March 25, providing a degree of relief to transporters, who on Wednesday sought an economic relief package.

The ministry of home affairs on Wednesday issued guidelines to the effect, coming to the rescue of truckers stranded en route because of strict enforcement of the lockdown although cargo vehicles carrying essential supplies have been exempted from the restrictions. The closure of truck repairers and eateries has proved to be an additional inconvenience.

Movement of all trucks and other goods carriers, with two drivers and one helper, subject to the drivers carrying a valid driving license, will be allowed, the guidelines said, a day after the lockdown was extended until May 3. Empty trucks will be allowed to ply after delivery of goods or for picking up goods.

Following the release of the home ministry guidelines, transporters reached out to the government, seeking an economic relief package to bring back workers and resolve supply chain hurdles.They also sought clarity on the opening of booking offices and warehouses for loading and unloading goods.

“We welcome the fresh guidelines as allowing the movement of all goods carriers will ease some pressure on the sector, especially for those whose vehicles loaded with non-essential goods that are stranded.. But there are still many challenges. There is no clarity on opening of booking offices, godowns, factories and warehouses and unless that is resolved it will remain a challenge to unload loaded goods and book goods,” said Kultaran Singh Atwal, president of the All India Motor Transport Congress.

“The transport sector is one of the worst affected sectors with {the proportion of} idle vehicles reaching above 90%. More than 20 crore people are directly and indirectly dependent on this sector. The government needs to give immediate stimulus for this sector so that it continues to drive the economy,” Atwal said.

Transporters have sought a social security cover of Rs 15,000 per month from the Centre for workers engaged in the supply chain. They have also sought loans at low rate of interest for working capital.

“Amid the prevailing uncertainty, the next two quarters would be extremely critical and nightmarish for the road transport sector as poor consumption will lead to weak demand and hence less transportation activity. It will take about six or more months to revive production and consumption in the country and to get transportation activity to reach an average level. Social Security for the people engaged in the supply chain has been a long pending demand..,” Singh said.

The Centre is also considering a demand for providing a Rs 50 lakh insurance cover for those engaged in the supply chain. “A decision on the demand for insurance cover will be taken soon,” a senior government official said, requesting anonymity.

According to fleet management firm LocoNav, the daily average movement of trucks and distance covered has dropped to 20% during the lockdown. “We are hopeful of it recovering marginally now after the MHA guidelines. Depending on the drivers and availability of labour we are hoping supply movement picks up to 40% now,” said Shridhar Gupta ,co- founder, LocoNav.

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