Experts throw light on ground realities of India’s Trucking Sector during lockdown

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Road transport accounts for about 60% of total freight traffic in India. However, with the recent lockdown imposed throughout the country, daily movement of trucks has collapsed to less than 10% of normal levels, according to the All India Motor Transport Congress. The transport of goods by road was included as one of the essential services exempt from restrictions. However, the ground reality paints a different picture with thousands of trucks stranded across different state borders across the country.

In an attempt to provide the community a platform to discuss the major chokepoints that have emerged as a fallout of the unprecedented lockdown, Logistics Insider, on 14th April, organised a virtual conference on the theme “India’s Trucking Sector In The Face Of A Nationwide Lockdown”.

Watch the highlights of the e-Meet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM1Q2cj46V8&t=363s

The conference commenced with a welcome note from Mr Gaurav Dubey, Co-founder, Logistics Insider.

Mr Dubey noted, “Despite the fact that the government have lifted all the restrictions on movement of trucks across India, the ground reality is completely different. In the pre-COVID era, less than 10% of 70 lakh truck drivers were on road due to the prevailing economic slowdown. And, amid the spread of the virus, only 6% of the truck drivers are plying on road and are also demanding 50-60% higher wages resulting in an increased cost of logistics for essentials.”

The e-meet touched upon points such as impact on the trucking sector, the intervention by the union government and the ground reality, the short time challenges and the revival strategy by the industry.

Mr Jaideep Raha, Regional Convenor-eastern Chapter, AMTOI, while moderating the panel, raised his concerns for the ground level challenges faced by the drivers.

He said, “One of the most important concerns is that because of the lockdown the dhabas on the highways are shut down, there are no rest-stops for the drivers to have their food. The trucks are being stranded as there are certain no go zones and certain panchayats have also put restrictions on outsiders crossing their villages, thus the drivers are stranded in the middle of nowhere and it is something that the government needs to look into.”

While talking about logistics being considered as one of the essential services of the nation by the government Mr Jasjit Sethi, CEO, TCI Supply Chain Solutions said, “When the lockdown had happened, the value of supply chain was quickly understood by the government. But, it was not understood by the local authorities like the DCs or the police who still feel that these people are not a part of the essential service.”

Mr Mihir Mohanta, General Manager (SCM), Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables spoke on the pressure felt on the supply chain amid the lockdown. He said, “Before the lockdown, we use to sell about 150-160 tons per day and amid the lockdown, our sales touched 300-350 tons per day which was due to the panic buyers. This put tremendous pressure on the supply chain due to lack of availability of truck drivers, delays caused to the trucks due to checkpoints and unavailability of loader and unloaders.”

Mr Sandeep Chatterjee, Associate Director, Deloitte India praised the efforts of the government and talked about the challenges faced by the industry. “The government has done a tremendous job but the industry definitely faced a challenge. As an industry we had 4-5 hours before the announcement of the lockdown which wasn’t enough to respond for the trucks,” he said.

Mr Dileepa BM, CEO-Bonded Trucking, Shreeji Translogistics said, “The drivers are facing problem as there is no transportation for them to come home, further our staff of bonded trucking are now doing the loading and unloading at the airports as there is no custodian labours available.”

The e-meet saw the presence of 120+ delegates and give them an opportunity from the comfort of their homes to connect with experts and address the issues faced by them in their respective industries.

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