The possibilities of Maharashtra going into lockdown again has created a sense of fear in transporters, who believe that another lockdown amid the existing woes of the transporters might result in a hammering blow to the industry.
Recently, Maharashtra had announced a fresh set of restrictions in the state due to the sudden spike in COVID- 19 cases in the two last weeks.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said he was “worried about the severity of a second wave if it hits the state” in a live televised address on Sunday.
With fuel prices at an all-time high, the transportation industry is already in a state of turmoil.
A possible lockdown might reverse the recovery of the state and can lead to a detrimental impact on the state’s logistics and supply chain.
Suresh Khosla, General Secretary, Bombay Goods Transport Association throws light on the alarming crisis of the transporters and how a possible lockdown may turn out to be the final nail in the coffin.
“As of now, such is the situation of demand and supply that only 70% of the vehicles are running whereas 30% of the vehicles are just lying around since there is no business. Because of the pandemic, industries have not been able to function at 100%. Secondly, the financial impact has been a major hurdle for the transporters, for which they have not able to run the vehicles since they have not able to meet the finances. This has again led to them not being able to pay the EMI on time.”
Mr Khosla adds, “The previous lockdowns have had such a massive impact on the transporters that majority of them (who own around 1-5 vehicles) have moved out of the trade because of the heightening pressure and challenges in the ground level like increase in fuel prices, increase in spare parts, tyre prices, the recent B6 norms, etc. No stakeholder has been taken into consideration for the policies.
“One spends around INR 70 lakhs of money on a single truck and the returns are instead astonishing; it just doesn’t match. It’s a slow poison. Transporters are the backbone of the economy, who are now on slow poison”, Mr Khosla shares.
While talking about the impact of a possible lockdown on the transporters’ community, Mr Khosla shared that the first impact will be on the small truck owners.
“At the ground level, the immediate effect will be such that the small truck owners will be voiced out. They will not be able to run their business. Since the coronavirus-imposed lockdowns, tremendous stress has been on them, for which they have not been able to shell out their EMIs on time.”~Suresh Khosla, General Secretary, Bombay Goods Transport Association
Chirag Katira, General Secretary- Maharashtra, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) lets us in on how another lockdown will only add fuel to the raging fire that has been engulfing the transporter community.
“The fuel price hike has already been worrisome, there have been regular fluctuations and our customers are also not ready to accept the revised rates. I can’t keep handing price hikes to my customers every two days”, he shares.
Mr Katira stresses on how transporters are already unhappy with the fuel hikes and he feels that a possible lockdown will take the industry back by months, should it be imposed.
“We have not recovered completely, our industry is at 70-80% now. If a lockdown is imposed, the industry will go back by 5 months.”~Chirag Katira, General Secretary- Maharashtra, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC)
He also adds, “Our losses will not be recovered” .
“We are trying to recover, we have not recovered completely. Even a one week lockdown will lead 10% of the transporters into a deep pit of struggle. Even the existing policy on vehicle scrappage policy has caused many to abandon their trucks. There has been no support or consultation from the government side”.
“A lockdown will lead to zero supply and in turn we have to bear the costs, the EMI- everything will be on us.”
Mr Katira also shares that the sale of trucks has gone down to an abysmal low of 40-45% due to the existing crisis.
“Sale of trucks has gone down to 40-45%. We do not have money for new trucks; the suffering continues”.