COVID-19: Shortage of truck drivers could impede cargo supply
Published On Apr 01, 2020
Reports of drivers abandoning trucks in the middle of a trip could hamper the cargo and logistics supply across states
The COVID-19 has disrupted the entire country, and the complete nationwide lockdown bought everything to a standstill. Truck transport across the country, expect the essential goods, is now remains a total standstill.
There are reports emerging from parts of the country that drivers are facing acute hardship as they struggle to survive in the middle of their transit. Some of the drivers are reportedly escaping the journey by abandoning trucks to head home to prevent action by authorities and increasing the risk of catching the deadly coronavirus.
Drivers are facing through double whammy as they fear action by authorities for being out during lockdown. At the same time families back home pressuring them to return home to prevent virus infection. However, leaving the truck and expensive cargo behind isn’t an option for these drivers.
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.
Many drivers are stuck at various transport hubs, state borders and at highways are facing a crisis. Most of them unable to get basic necessities such as enough food and water, too, leaving even survival doubtful. Also, drivers carry limited cash with them, making them even vulnerable to pay for their needs. In such tough condition truck owners and fleet-operators help is essential for drivers.
The backbone of the transport sector
Drivers are the backbone of the transport and logistics industry. If drivers stay away from work, the transport and logistics sector may find it challenging to restore the essential supplies. The availability of drivers is critical for crucial goods and the broader transport sector once the lockdown is over as the demand for products likely to spike. Collective action by the authorities and fleet owners is necessary to support the drivers trapped across the country.
Trying to address the issues faced by the driver, various state governments, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) have taken steps to provide the essential services to drivers. OEMs through their employees and dealers’ partners in different parts of the country are trying to reach out to customers and drivers to help them. Ashok Leyland Service Team along with our Channel Partners, reached out to a few more members of our driver fraternity across the country with food packets. This is being done with the utmost care and with proper safety.
Also, to help people from their transport documentation process, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway has advised States/UTs to extend the validity of documents like DL, permits and registration that expired since February 1st, 2020. Such documents are to be treated as valid till June 30th, 2020.
Considering drivers are the critical elements in the whole transport eco-system, authorities and the fleet-owners should take proper steps to help stranded drivers. Importantly, as the lockdown gets lifted in few weeks, the same drivers will be most crucial in ensuring the trucks start to move faster as the country needs to restore the supplies of all the goods to larger populations. Therefore, the survival of drivers is crucial during this challenging time and not letting them left-out.
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