Even as the Centre has allowed for the unhindered movement of trucks to supply essential commodities and other goods across the country amid the nationwide lockdown, the truckers have claimed they are still facing problems in resuming normal operations.
Truckers said that 80 per cent of the total fleet of commercial transport vehicles in India were off the roads, as of now.
All India Motor Transport Congress President Kultaran Singh Atwal said that even though the central government had several times issued guidelines for the smooth movement of trucks across the country, the implementation of the directives on the ground was poor.
He said that truck drivers were held up at various places en route to their destinations, which had added to the truckers' woes.
He pointed out that many big cities were in the red zone, which was out of bounds for trucks. And since many industrial units were still shut, trucks stranded at the destinations were yet to be unloaded.
AIMTC General Secretary Navin Kumar Gupta said that not more than 20 per cent of the 76 lakh trucks in the country were on roads at present.
Delhi transporter Ajit Singh Oberoi and Dilip Lamba from Rajasthan said that they were not receiving any goods to ferry to other destinations.
"Industries have been allowed to reopen at many places. But transport offices and godowns are still closed. How will the transporters get the trucks loaded, unloaded and pay their drivers for fuel and other expenses in such situation?" remarked Oberoi.
Truck owners also said that there was shortage of drivers to operate their fleets.
They pointed out that drivers who had gone to their native places due to the lockdown were unwilling to return to work in the present situation.
Drivers who are on the job are fearful, since they are quarantined once they return home after unloading goods at the destinations, the owners said.
Atwal pointed out that truck drivers too were on the forefront of the battle against coronavirus, just as was the case with doctors, nurses, police and other officials.
Since the truck drivers too were risking their lives to ferry essential commodities across the country, they too should be given life insurance of Rs 50 lakh as was the case with other corona warriors, he demanded.
(With agency inputs).