Need new mechanism for revising fuel prices: South India Motor Transport Association

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on January 31, 2020

(from left) K Giriprakash, Associate Editor, BusinessLine ; Sanjay Kumar Sinha, General Manager – Retail Sales, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd; GR Shanmugappa, General Secretary, South India Motor Transport Association, Former President – All India Motor Transport Congress and President, Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents Association; and Sundarraj Ponnuswamy, Advisor, South India Motor Transport Association, participating in a panel discussion on ‘The Road Ahead’ at the Transporters Meet in Bengaluru on Thursday   -  SOMASHEKAR G R N

A revision once in three/six months can lift the mood of the transport sector that is battling many challenges, says SIMTA

Easy access to finance and insurance, healthcare benefits for drivers and a mechanism for revising petrol/diesel rates once every quarter can benefit the transport industry, said GR Shanmugappa, General Secretary, South India Motor Transport Association (SIMTA).

Participating in the panel discussion on the ‘Road Ahead’ for the transport sector organised by BusinessLine as part of the Transporters Meet presented by Indian Oil and powered by Mahindra Small Commercial Vehicles here on Thursday, Shanmugappa said that post-demonetisation and the rollout of the GST across the country, the transport sector needs a few remedial measures to regain its past glory. “We request oil companies and government to work out a mechanism for revising petrol/diesel rates once in three or six months. By doing this, fixed cost operators can bring down their cost of operation,” he said. Talking about heavy tonnage vehicles entering the market, the veteran transporter said: “If the government is serious, then it should first improve the infrastructure sector, especially roads and strengthen bridges across the country. The current infrastructure is not sufficient for high tonnage vehicles.”

Shanmugappa thanked Bengaluru’s Commissioner of Police Bhaskar Rao for helping the transport industry. “When he was transport commissioner, he had helped us (transporters) in solving our issues through the traffic advisory committee, especially by reducing the fee for the National Permit from ₹5,000 to ₹500. He had also helped us in reducing the educational qualification for heavy vehicle drivers to Class 8.”

In his presentation, Sundarraj Ponnusamy, Advisor, SIMTA, said at the moment, the transport sector is plagued by numerous issues. Governments need to hike infrastructure spend from the current 2-5 per cent of GDP to the level of 12 -15 per cent as done by other countries for smooth movement of goods and services.

“The governments, both Centre and in the States, before making any laws or amending the existing ones first need to take us into confidence. The law makers, especially the officers, do not have any practical knowledge or experience of owning or operating a transport vehicle.” He further said important issues like parking facility and providing civic amenities along the highways need immediate intervention.

Easy financing

Seeking government’s intervention, Ponnusamy said access to easy finance at attractive rate of interest is vital for the sector’s survival. Currently, the sector is burdened with very high interest rates of around 20-25 per cent compared with 2-5 per cent in other countries. With high interest, it is difficult to sustain as transport operator.

Companies need to be encouraged to spend their CSR funds on training drivers, improving their safety, and catering to their livelihood needs, he said.

Sanjay Kumar Sinha, General Manager – Retail Sales, Indian Oil Corporation, said his company is working out a strategy for the transporters and drivers community in the backdrop of migration to BSVI emission norms from April 1, 2020.

According to Sinha, IndianOil, through its Sarai scheme, has set up retail outlets on national highways focussed on providing driver amenities.

The facilities include — rest rooms, Wi-Fi, TV, lockers and coolers, dhabas, a self-cooking area, secured parking with CCTV cameras, laundrette, bathing facility and doctors-on-call.

Sinha further said every year, on September 17, IOC holds a health check-up camp across the country, mainly for the benefit of drivers.

Panel discussion was moderated by K Giriprakash, Associate Editor, BusinessLine.

Published on January 31, 2020

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