22 May 2018

Hit hard by fuel and toll rates, truckers stare at bleak future..

There are around 4.5 lakh trucks in Tamil Nadu, with both the intra and inter-state services.
COIMBATORE: Truck owners and operators in the state said the hike in fuel prices and toll rates have cost them dear, forcing many of them surrender their vehicles to financiers as they have gone out of business and not in a position to pay the dues. They also announced plans to go on an indefinite strike from the second half of July, if the central government failed to address their concerns.

There are around 4.5 lakh trucks in Tamil Nadu, with both the intra and inter-state services.

As the fuel prices have been going up daily from June 16 last, truckers say it has put them in a difficult spot as they can’t recover the difference in hike from their clients. This apart, the increase in toll fares and third-party insurance rates has forced almost 2.5 lakh trucks in the state to be stationed without business.

In Coimbatore alone, there are at least 15,000 trucks and around 70,000 people - owners, drivers and cleaners - who depend on them for their livelihood. Of these, around 7,500 trucks ply to other states.

Since the introduction of daily fuel price revision, there is a trend of truck owners surrendering their vehicles to financiers as they were not able to pay the dues, said C Dhanaraj, secretary of the state lorry owners’ association.

“The third-party insurance rate has also increased up to 24%. This means it would cost a truck owner around Rs 1 lakh along with maintenance when he has to produce the vehicle for fitness certificate. As this is unaffordable, many truck owners are selling their vehicles at scrap rates,” he said. Around 3,000 vehicles are being sold per month, Dhanaraj added.

K S Kaliyaperumal, president of Coimbatore Lorry Owner’s Association, said the toll fares also pose a burden to truck owners. “Almost 25% income from a truck is spent on toll fares,” he said.

All these issues were discussed at a meeting of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) held in New Delhi on Thursday. Based on the outcome of the meeting, all member associations under AIMTC would stage an indefinite strike from July 20, Kaliyaperumal said.

“We have given a two-month window as the trucks, which have gone on inter-state trips, have to return to their respective districts where they would station during the strike,” he said, adding, “We hope the Centre take a favourable decision to reduce fuel price, and toll and insurance rates within that.”