Covid-19 lockdown: Over 15 lakh trucks, 35 lakh drivers stuck on roads without support

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 27, 2020

A driver cooks food inside his parked supply truck at a yard during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the outskirts of Kolkata.   -  REUTRES

The national lockdown is proving to be a nightmare for nearly 36 lakh truck drivers across the country. “Out of 75 lakh commercial vehicles in the country, over 20 per cent are stuck on the roads across the country and drivers are in need of urgent support,” Janakiram Reddy, Vice-Chairman, All India Motor Transport Congress Toll Committee, told BusinessLine on Friday.

The 21-day national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been followed by all States, with borders being shut.

This has impacted a large number of vehicles ferrying goods between the States as well across the country.

“There is an urgent need to provide food and other facilities to the truck drivers. Most of them will not carry adequate cash to support themselves and families back home,” Reddy said.

The responsibility should be taken up by the respective State governments that collected tax from the vehicles as well as the Centre, depending on the State or national permit given to vehicles, he said.

Panic calls

The transporters' association has set up helplines across all States as well as a national help line to support and provide guidance to truckers who have been held up.

“We have been receiving calls from panic-stricken drivers. The government, too, should chip in to help them,” he said.

On the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) moratorium on repayment of term loans to help those affected by the coronavirus lockdown, Reddy said it should be extended beyond six months if needed.

“There is also a need to look into insurance, which will have to be paid for the next financial year. Some relief is needed here, too,” he added.

Published on March 27, 2020

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