COVID-19: Transport sector seeks to get back to normal
Published On Apr 21, 2020
The government’s partial lifting of lockdown this week is positive for the transport sector. While it will take some time before the sector stands on its feet, the latest measures will help to restore supplies of essential goods and also stimulate the economy.
After two successive stringent lockdowns announced by the government to contain the spread of the deadly virus, some relaxation has been declared on Monday. The aim is to get kick-start economic activities.
The transport sector is among the key element in the process of getting back the economic activities as truckers are critical in restoring the supplies across the country. Trucks are helping small businesses and industries to get the vital supplies to keep them running. This will further accelerate the movement of cargo delivery across states borders as the larger economy starts to open up gradually.
This partial lifting of lockdown is aimed at easing difficulties face by citizens; however, it is also being stated that caution should be exercised in maintaining safety and social distancing rules.
While the lifting of lockdown is a positive development for the transport sector, yet it will take a few days for the drivers to get back to the fleet owners to resume transport operations, also the availability of freight orders is crucial.
Speaking on the relaxation of lockdown, S. P. Singh, from the IFTRT said, “Vehicle owners have been gearing up for lifting of partial shutdown for factories and in last two days drivers have managed to join fleet owners. As 10-15 % of 5.2 million trucks were on road moving essentials and rabi crop procurement, now in the next 3-4 days it may go up around 2 million from 1 million- 1.2 million already on highways.”
MSMEs Support Critical
Ashok Leyland’s managing director and CEO, Vipin Sondhi stated the urgent need to support the critical MSME sector, the backbone of the industry.
He said, “It would be crucial to kick-start economic activity after this period of disruption. MSME’s are the backbone of Indian industry and form the key element of product supply chain - be it agri-processing, textiles, or auto-ancillaries. They will need support from the government, and some measures to be considered would be - easy access to working capital and liquidity, through banks and NBFC’s, providing Interest free and collateral free loans; introduction of an incentive for MSME’s to help them pay salaries and wages to their employees in these times; extension of the NPA recognition period from 90 days to 360 days; ensuring that all pending payments to industry/MSME’s are cleared immediately by the government departments and PSUs, and lastly, MSMEs can be incentivised to produce medical supplies, with a buy back arrangement from the government.”
Commenting on the government’s FDI policy, Sondhi said, "The decision by the Government to amend the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI ) policy to put a blanket ban on investments through the automatic route by entities from countries that share a border with India, is a positive step in these uncertain times. It will enable safeguarding of Indian businesses against opportunistic takeover threats, as they become tempting targets in the current scenario”.