The truck industry has strongly protested the increase in fuel prices for the ninth day in a row today. As the industry is already affected by the lockdown, such increase will make it worse and it is difficult to operate vehicles, said truckers.

Oil companies on Monday increased the prices of petrol by 48 paise per litre and diesel by 23 paise a litre to adjust retail rates in line with costs. In the nine price hikes, the prices of petrol and diesel have gone up by ₹5 and ₹4.87 a litre respectively, they said.

The road transport sector is protesting against the consistent increase of petrol and diesel prices. “This is fomenting inflation and disrupting transport business operations, which are already devastated by the lockdown,” said the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).

Since the dynamic pricing was launched in July 2017, the average crude price has steadily declined. The dynamic fuel pricing was pegged to promote efficiency and transparency and to benefit consumers. However, instead of reducing the diesel prices when crude prices declined, the government increased the excise duty and taxes multi-fold. This is killing the trucking business as diesel accounts for over 60 per cent of the running cost of trucks, said All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA), which represents over 90 lakh road transport service providers. “Throughout the lockdown, nothing has been done for truckers. All ministries are trying to support their trade by giving waivers but there seems no such steps here,” the association added.

The government always puts the burden on transporters. When they have a problem like shortage of essential goods they seek the industry’s help to transport them across the country. However, when the industry asks help in reducing fuel rate or relief in toll fees, they won’t bother, said Chand Basha, a transporter, in a tweet.

The daily hike in fuel prices make operations unviable, said Bal Malkit Singh of Mumbai-based Bal Roadlines. Now the focus seems to have shifted from saving livelihoods and lives of people to revenue-generation and futile debates. The initial seriousness has gone with the wind. There has been a consistent increase in petrol and diesel prices. The government switched between controlled and dynamic pricing to suit its convenience, said Singh, Chairman - Core Committee and former president of AIMTC.

The central government has increased excise duty twice on both petrol and diesel and most State governments have hiked cess or VAT on their part thus squeezing the consumers, the road transport sector in particular. The transporters cannot absorb the daily hike in diesel prices as the freight depends mostly on demand and supply forces, he said.