As states begin relaxing norms in the third phase of the nationwide lockdown, traffic movement across the country has picked up and is expected to shore up further with relaxations of supply chains.
Transporters had anticipated around 25 per cent traffic back on the roads from April 20, when the first set of relaxations were announced. However, due to various supply chain disruptions the traffic was around 10-15 per cent.
“Factories had opened but showrooms had not. Therefore, the dealers were not keen on ferrying the goods from the manufacturing units. This was the case of cars and two-wheelers,” S P Singh, senior fellow and coordinator, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which resumed tolling at the highways on April 20, is expecting to see a gradual increase in traffic.
NHAI Chairman Sukhbir Singh Sandhu said the traffic was picking up at the highways gradually and they were hoping that it would increase further with these relaxations.
“Traffic across roads is in the range of 30-50 per cent for what the usual traffic would have been for a non-Covid period. The range would be different by 5 per cent in terms of toll collection,” said a top executive, managing interest in several toll road projects in the country.
The executive added: “Composition for this traffic differs from state to state....Punjab, for instance, is seeing a lot of agriculture related traffic. Overall, it is first commodity and then industrial activity contributing to this traffic.”
The traffic movement from the last week of March till mid-April was around 5 per cent as only essential goods were allowed to be transported amid the lockdown.
“It is hovering around 20 per cent at the moment but we do not see it improving as there is a shortage of both drivers and labour,” said Naveen Kumar Gupta, secretary general, All Indian Mobile Transport Congress.
Gupta said the transport was a cash-driven business and small transporters, which are 85 per cent of the total truckers, cannot operate without cash.
However, large transporters can get credit but their share in the business is not enough for the industry to pick up.
The government had on March 25 announced temporary suspension of toll collection on national highways to ease emergency services in view of the Covid-19 outbreak but resumed it on April 20 after first relaxations came into force.