Taasir News Network:
Truckers across India are in a state of limbo as most trucks are stuck where they are as a result of the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. This has resulted in supplies in many places suffering, including that of e-retailers. According to industry estimates, more than six lakh truckers are on the roads, stranded without basic supplies for themselves.
One of the stranded truck drivers near Mumbai told that “Finding food is a huge challenge. Sometimes we get food, sometimes we don’t. Hotels are closed and grocery shops charge high prices. This a huge problem. Finding food is difficult.”
“There is no food to eat. All hotels are shut here. We are finding it difficult to get food. It’s a huge problem. If one truck driver cooks something, 100 people share that food. Sometimes we go hungry also,” another stranded driver said.
Truck drivers across the country have been hit hard. Most of them were on their journeys when the lockdown was announced and had no time to plan for any contingency when the lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Tuesday. They have parked their trucks wherever they are and are now dependent on charitable organisations or their associations like the Bombay Goods Transport Association for food and essentials.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who met with e-retailers last week, was also informed of the backlog in supply due to trucks being stranded. But the situation on the ground hasn’t improved much. After the meeting, Mr Goyal had tweeted, “Had a video conference with stakeholders from e-commerce and logistics industry regarding the issues faced due to COVID2019 lockdown and discussed measures to resolve them. We are committed to ensuring that essential goods reach the people in the most convenient and safest manner.”
While industry bodies estimate that more than six lakh registered trucks are stranded across the country, most truck drivers are sleeping in whatever accommodation is available where they are stranded. For most of them, the day is spent by playing a game of cards to overcome boredom, as some supplies, especially perishable items in some cases, have already rotten in their trucks. Most truck drivers have resigned to their fate of spending more time on the road as they say any movement with trucks leads to harassment and even a thrashing from the police. This, they say is the case in spite of orders from the Union Home Ministry to let essential supplies move.
At the agricultural produce market in Navi Mumbai, truck drivers have a similar tale to narrate. Many truck drivers have been stranded at the market for days and have nowhere to go. Sayyed Rasool from Tamil Nadu’s Ooty came to Mumbai with a truckload of bananas.
Whatever food supply he carried from home is over and he is now dependent on help from the administration to survive. “It is better to stay here than travel with all that is happening and the police not letting our vehicles move freely,” he told.
Vipul Bansal, honorary general secretary of the Bombay Goods Transport Association, told that, “Due to the sudden lockdown announced by the centre, all the trucks carrying various goods are stranded at various places. The drivers are not getting food and water due to which there is a huge shortage of vehicles even for the essential commodities. We urge the government to help the truckers get food and water and also allow them to unload the goods that have already been loaded onto them so that we get trucks for essential commodities and there is less shortage of vehicles. We have submitted a lot of reports to the government and we hope the government takes some action urgently.”
While charitable organisations and associations like the Bombay Goods Transport Association are ensuring that truck drivers get food, for movement of supplies to improve, the trucks will have to move from the locations they are stranded in.
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