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Over 80% of truck drivers don’t recommend the profession to relatives

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 28, 2020

File photo   -  The Hindu

Paltry salaries, poor working conditions, insulting language among grouses, says survey

Being a truck driver is such a difficult job that an overwhelming majority of those in the profession do not want any of their relatives to take it up, says a survey conducted by Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA) for SaveLIFE Foundation.

Paltry salaries, lack of job and social security, bad working conditions, being at the receiving end of insulting language even while bribing officials and organised local gangs in several areas are just some of the myriad challenges that a truck driver plying across highways in India faces. Over 1,300 drivers across various truck hubs in the country were interviewed for the survey, titled ‘Status of Truck Drivers in India’.

Over nine out of 10 (93 per cent) of the drivers confirmed that apart from salary, they do not get any social security. They get paid ₹10,000-20,000 a month, which is even lower than the minimum wages in several States, Abhishek Agrawal, Executive Director, MDRA, said at a conference here on Friday.

The majority of the drivers are employees, implying there is a decline in owner-driven trucks, showed the study. Just 6 per cent of the drivers were driving self-owned trucks.

This drop in owner-driven trucks could be explained by a whopping 84 per cent of drivers saying they would not recommend trucking to family members, and 53 per cent saying they were dissatisfied with their profession.

Bribes en-route

Truck drivers pay ₹47,852 crore every year as bribes, estimated the study “conservatively”, said Piyush Tiwari, founder, SaveLIFE Foundation.

The bribe amount has more than doubled since 2007, when it was estimated at about ₹22,000 crore a year, noted Agrawal, who told BusinessLine that MDRA had done a study on corruption in trucking operation in India for Transparency International in 2007.

Another pain point for drivers is having to put up with insulting behaviour, or lack of respect, even while paying bribes to authorities such as highway or traffic police, RTO officials and ‘flying squads’, and extortion money to local groups such as ‘pooja committees’.

“About 41 per cent of truck drivers fear facing insults and bad language while dealing with police or other authorities...Several times when they were stopped and had to pay bribes without reason, the language used by the authorities was derogatory,” said MDRA’s Agrawal.

The study, which is based on interviews with over 1,000 truck drivers and fleet owners, involved a team of about 75 people, who worked on the field spread across India, between August and December 2019, he added.

About 90 per cent of the drivers confessed they were not trained properly before getting a driving licence. And half of the drivers, who drive for 12 hours a day on an average, said they drive even if they feel fatigued or are sleepy.

Published on February 28, 2020

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