COVID-19: Majority of the trucks stays away from roads
Published On Apr 06, 2020
The nation-wide lockdown halted the broader economy and rendering the transport and logistics industry into a frenzy. Demand for essential goods is rising, yet the bulk of the trucks are off the roads.
Reports coming from parts of India indicate a grim picture of the transport and logistic sectors. As the country is now under the 21 days lockdown, trucks standing still across various parts of the country.
The millions of trucks and their drivers are unable to work even when the demand for essential supplies is increasing. The confusion regarding the restrictions and the actions by authorities isn’t helping transporters either. There are nearly 50 lakhs medium and heavy trucks in India and only a quarter of them are available, leaving the entire trucking ecosystems vulnerable.
At present, the bigger issue is the total breakdown of the industrial and transportation structure as everything in the general economic activities, including factories, retail outlets and construction sites have been shut down. Thus, drying down the demand and hence the movements of goods.
The larger population is staying indoor, yet, the demand for essential products spiraling, and the maintaining supplies are critical. While trucks carrying essential goods can cross state borders, most of the trucks are trapped with non-essential goods at respective states due to lockdown, unable to unload the shipments. This also means the freight rates are now going up steeply for critical cargo transport.
The government is trying to address some of the concerns facing the transport industry to make things easier on the ground. The National Highway Authority is helping truck drivers with essential items. The toll collection across the country remains suspended.
According to S P Singh, senior fellow and coordinators, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, “The harvesting shall continue till 31st May'20 and arrival of summer fruits & vegetables to APMC shall continue till 31st July'20 helping trucking business to depend on food items rather major dependant on manufacturing products leaving factory gates as COVID-19 shut down has crippled manufacturing sector and now only 30% of the 5.2 million national M&HCV trucks are functioning.”
“The rabi crop procurement is a major silver lining for truck operators, who have been given several fiscal and operational relaxations to run smoothly on highways for intra-state and inter-state movement of goods irrespective of essential or non-essential cargo by Centre and State Governments”, he said.
Clearly, a tough time for trucks and fleet operators as they eagerly wait for things to come back to normal.