The institute will teach them spoken english and computers.
On-the-job training is common in most white-collar professions — but an orientation programme for truck drivers?
The Hyderabad Goods Transport Association has spent Rs 6 crore on a facility to train drivers, cleaners, hamalis (as transport labourers are called locally) and even managers and clerks of transporters. Called the Transport Training and Development Institute (TTDI), it is housed in a swank, glass-fronted, two-storeyed facility spread over 9,000 sq ft in Autonagar.
At the institute, there will be the expected training in safe driving skills, better fuel efficiency, some basic repairs and maintenance. But that’s not all. “Soft skills, spoken English, basic computer use, and health awareness are all part of the programme here,” says S Hari Das, principal of TTDI. There will also be classes in meditation and yoga, fire-fighting, first aid and other life skills.
There’s a shortage of truck drivers, says Pawan Kumar Gupta, president of HGTA, which has close to 300 fleet operators who run around 10,000 trucks. “Earlier, a driver’s son would become a driver. But now no driver wants his son to become a driver. It is not a respectable job,” Gupta says. The school, it was hoped, would attract more people to the job, by giving it a semblance of professionalism.
TTDI has spanking new labs containing sections of the engine, motor and other electrical and mechanical components, some of them sponsored by Ashok Leyland, Lucas TVS and Michelin. There is also a large hall which, Das says, will be used for meditation classes. There is also a computer lab and classrooms.
TTDI is now in discussions with the State Board of Intermediate Education to recognise its training programmes as Plus Two-level vocational courses. In the future it hopes to give licences to its students, too.
How far will this school help improve the lives of drivers? Gupta says drivers’ lives are always at risk, more nowadays, with the rising number of robberies on the highways. “I think the government should design a scheme to route salaries and other benefits to drivers. At the time of renewing the national permit, it can have a mandatory check of the provident fund and ESI accounts of all drivers,” he suggests.
There’s more on the wish-list for the government. “The government should set up facilities for drivers every 100 km on the highways, with provisions for safe parking, medical and communications, a washroom, dormitory and workshops. If the government is willing to offer land on lease or on any other basis, we are willing to build and run the facility through public-private partnership,” Gupta says.
The institute is not a corporate social responsibility initiative of the Rs 10,000-crore HGTA, says Gupta. It is a non-profit venture and will charge a nominal Rs 600 from its students.
TTDI is not the first such drivers’ training school in Andhra Pradesh. There is the Parvathaneni Subhas Chandra Bose Memorial Driving School in Vijaywada, named after the man who started Navata Transport, a parcel service. “Mechanic Bose”, as he was also called, began life as a mechanic and did not study beyond class eight. The school, run by a trust in his name, offers 41-day driver training courses with a licence at the end, along with free food and accommodation.
Before moving to TTDI, Das worked as sales and marketing head of Navata Transport. And he has carried his experience with him.