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Covid-19: Panic among stranded truck drivers may cripple supply chain, says transporters' body

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
Panic among stranded truckers at various places without proper provisions could escalate the problem of drivers' shortages and cripple supply chain, transporters' body AIMTC on Monday cautioned.
All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is the apex body of transporters representing about 93 lakh truckers across the nation.
"Today we are in 6th day of countrywide lockdown and the situation at the ground has not eased a bit and if the same conditions persist than the unfolding scenario could be quite scary... it has come to light that because of the total ban on movement of vehicles carrying non-essential goods and empty vehicles, the majority drivers have left for home in 'panic' as they were stranded on the highways for days bereft of food, water and safety," the AIMTC said in a statement.
Thousands of vehicles are abandoned by the drivers at whatever places possible, it said.
"This type of insensitivity to the ...the drivers - who are in public service, providing the essential services to the people of the country will further dishearten them and make them run to their homes. This will create scarcity of drivers for carrying the essential goods," the statement said.
The body said though the government is trying its best to salvage the situation but its policies does not seem to have desired impact.
It said more than 85 per cent of the Trucking population is of small operators having one to five trucks and once their wheels stop churning, there is no other source of income for them.
The AIMTC said another unfolding situation is the expiry of National & State Permits, Fitness, Road Tax, Token Tax, Third Party Insurance, which is getting expired for a large number of vehicles.
"The information contained in yesterday's DO letter by Secretary Home, allowing movement of essential and non essential goods without discrimination, has not reached to the officials at the ground level manning the checkposts / nakas and it is leading to harassment, extortion and beatings in some cases of the drivers and crew, who are already braving extreme conditions without food, water and security," the AIMTC said.
Moreover, incidents of looting of trucks carrying essential goods by goons on the highways too has reached the body, which adds to the woe, it said.
"There could be of scarcity of drivers as well vehicles for carrying essential goods unless immediate pragmatic solutions are not worked out to restore confidence among drivers community and providing them a secure, empathetic and facilitating environment, especially for those who are carrying essential commodities. If not, then we are seeing a grave situation unfolding in imminent future," it said.
AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal said the road transport fraternity of India has always been in the forefront in the service of the nation in times of national calamities.
"We would like to help the Government in the present sensitive conditions but would like to request the it for positive, proactive and pragmatic initiatives to address growing concerns of the road transport fraternity of India so that the supply chain of essential commodities is not snapped," he said.

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First Published: Mar 30 2020 | 11:28 PM IST

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