COVID-19: Transport sectors come to grinding halt
Published On Mar 26, 2020
Like the rest of the economy, the transport and logistics sectors hit hard by lockdown as trucks carrying non-essential goods are trapped across the country
It is considered that trucks are the wheels of the Indian economy; they move bulk of the products and essential across the length and breadth of the country. In India, over 60% of goods are moved through surface transport, thus underlining the importance of truck transportation.
However, due to the rising number of virus-infected people and the likely disastrous consequences of its extensive spread, the government has announced 21 days locked down of the country. The action of government is the most appropriate in the given circumstances to prevent the health catastrophe in India. Yet, due to the unprecedented lockdown of the country, truck transportation is halted completely. The sudden announcement on the 24th of March night lockdown surprised many truck drivers and transport companies as many trucks are in transit carrying goods.
Trucks carrying non-essential goods are stopped totally at either on highways, transport areas of cities, or at logistics hubs. The interstate transport remains suspended as every state government has sealed the borders, expect trucks carrying milk, petrol, diesel, vegetables, medicines and gas cylinders can continue transportation.
As automakers shut down plants to protect workers and employees, this will severely impact production ahead of the BS6 roll-out. The OEMs plants closed also weighed heavily on the component suppliers as they must stop producing parts. Many trucks carrying an inventory of components are now caught in the middle to go nowhere with valuable goods.
Whenever manufacturing plants reopen, logistics supply becomes extremely crucial for both OEMs and suppliers to get production in order. OEMs, too, have to transport fully-built vehicles to the retail distribution across the country.
Driver face hardships
The trucks stranded across the country, impacting the movement of goods. At the same time, drivers transporting these shipments are facing real hardship. A large number of drivers are stuck in the middle carrying high-value products that they can’t abandon in the middle. Neither they get food nor shelter on the highways as the dhabas and small restaurants are shutdowns. The survival of the driver in the middle of their journey turning out to be exceedingly harder. Another hassle is in the event of a truck breakdown, getting the vehicle on the road is not possible as repair and service shops are not working, thus putting the drivers and vehicle in grave risk.
Many drivers don’t carry enough cash to survive for a few weeks, and truck owners are urging authorities to release trucks; however, state border lockdown making it hard for vehicles to move. 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 looking after them is need of the hour.