The 21-day lockdown and coronavirus outbreak in India has affected all businesses and transport industry is no different. Nagpur businessman and member of Nagpur Truck and Transport Union Raja Tuli has said that currently only 5% of around 90 lakh commercial vehicles in India are operational right now causing Rs 15,000 crore loss every day to the transport sector.
Tuli said, “The trucks, which are operational right now are mainly LPG and other petroleum products carriers and short distance milk tankers. Vegetable and fruits, which are available in the market are being transported by farmers themselves.”
Speaking about the impact of lockdown, imposed by PM Narendra Modi from March 24 to curb spread of coronavirus, on the transport industry Tuli said, “When lockdown was announced, it crated panic among the driver fraternity across the country. As a result, many drivers abandoned vehicles and went to their native places. Some headed to safer places, where basic amenities like food and shelter are available. Drivers don’t want to drive on highways at the moment as there are no ‘dhabas’ or eateries available now.”
As per Tuli, apart from drivers, availability of labours is also a big issue, which is hampering logistical operations in the country. Tuli said, “Truck owners are at home, offices are closed, staffers are at home, garages are closed and labourers are not available at loading and unloading points.”
Tuli added, “In the logistics supply chain, huge manpower is involved. At loading point, you need a supervisor to do documentation. But right now, with no public transportation available, such supervisors can’t travel to loading points at the moment. Also, staffers, drivers, supervisors and labours are unwilling to go out because of coronavirus.”
Speaking about the transport union’s expectation from the government, Tuli said, “We have suggested to the government that people, who are involved in supply chain work, must also be given Rs 50 lakh insurance cover that has been announced for front line health workers during these trying circumstances. If that happens, it can be an incentive for workers to come out for work. Moreover, trucks should also be sanitised at every 200 kilometres and drivers’ health should be checked before entering from one state to another.”