Logistics

Like GST, FASTag can speed up movement of commercial vehicles; save fuel and time, says Fortigo Network Logistics CEO

Pratim Ranjan Bose Guwahati. December 4 | Updated on December 05, 2019 Published on December 05, 2019

Anjani Mandal, Co-founder and CEO, Fortigo Network Logistics

Yes. Waiting, vehicle idling at toll plazas will come down, says an industry player

After introduction of GST and removal of inter-state check-posts, FASTag promises to be a major boost for the economy by reducing driving time and saving fuel by reducing idling time. But, a mixture of relaxations and enforcement may help make the transformation relatively smooth, feels Anjani Mandal, Co-founder and CEO of Fortigo Network Logistics.

‘Exempt some’

Small local players, for example, those who carry agri-produce to mandis or transfer goods from warehouses to the retailers, may be allowed to pay toll in cash to avoid hassles and cost implications, at least in the initial days.

According to Mandal, such trucks take small stretches of highway and are insignificant to the total traffic on the highways. They currently enjoy 50 per cent discount on tolls. Even if the discount continues, they may find it difficult to switch over to FASTag.

Enforcement

However, highway truckers who avoid moving to the electronic toll system should be penalised by way of higher fee, so as to enforce discipline.

Fortigo (4TiG) is a trucking network company that is run along the lines of cab aggregating companies. Trucking industry always had fleet owners and operators. What makes companies like Fortigo different is they are tech-driven and promote transparent cashless transactions, which is otherwise rare in the industry.

Mandal is upbeat that FASTag will have significant contributions in trucking costs and reduce the driving time. He has carried out some experiments using both FASTag and non-FASTag vehicles in select highway segments in the south with sufficient time savings.

He uses a simple measure to track time saved. There are 27 toll-plazas between his headquarters at Bengaluru and Delhi. At an average waiting time of three minutes each, which is extremely conservative, trucks waste nearly one-and-a-half hours just for paying toll. Reduced idling will also bring savings in fuel cost but that is not as easy to estimate.

What makes the whole story interesting is Mandal claims trucking industry gained significantly from popularisation of cashless transactions since demonetisation in 2016 and introduction of GST in July 2017.

Cashless transaction

“With high acceptance of cashless modes of payment, our cash requirement has come down,” he said. For trucking industry, where cash is arranged for the driver stranded at some remote location, there was heavy cost to it. “Our drivers now carry very little cash”, Mandal added.

The second benefit came through improved speed. Based on GPS numbers, he said: “On a 1,000-km stretch with two State borders, there is a straight 15 per cent reduction in driving time, post-GST”. FASTag will add to the time saving potential.

But why the trucking industry in general is not happy with either of these changes? Mandal pointed out that the industry is controlled by unorganised players but the shift to organised players is happening.

Published on December 05, 2019

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