March 27, 2020 7:12:40 pm
The Maharashtra government Friday announced that it will allow thousands of trucks stranded at its borders since the March 22 ‘Janata curfew’ to reach their destinations. Transport unions welcomed the decision as “a huge relief”.
Balmilkit Singh, chairman core committee of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) a national apex union, which has nearly 90 lakh commercial vehicles across the country said, “we were following up the matter with the central government since the lockdown. Our demand is that we be allowed stuck drivers to return or reach the places where they were headed”.
The trucks have been stranded amid a nationwide lockdown with no access to food, staying facilities or toilets. On March 26, the Union Cabinet secretary, through video conferencing, asked the state government to allow stranded commercial drivers to reach at the places for once, Singh said.
Balmilkit said, ” In Maharashtra nearly eight lakh commercial vehicles are stuck on the road at different places” These drivers are suffering for food and water and they are running out leaving the trucks on the road. Now government has decided to give a passage for a period of time so that they can reach home, but better implementation should be done on ground level and drivers should allow smooth travel without harassment“.
Despite the announcement by the state government, there appears to be no order yet to allow the vehicles to move.
Mohammad Areef, a truck driver who came on March 23 from Delhi to deliver the textile raw material in Bhiwandi is stranded on the road near Bhiwandi and couldn’t go anywhere as truck has valuable goods.
Another driver Shantu Singh who was transporting onions from Nashik to Jharkhand on March 25 had to park his truck in Karanja after being harassed by the police.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said he was asked for Rs 2,000 to continue the travel. “Onion supply is on the essential services list. Even after that, on checking point police asked me to pay Rs 2000. “I stopped my truck with loaded onions and stayed here. I am a driver and can’t pay Rs 2000 to anyone”.
Many petrol companies came forward to provide the truckers the facilities they had at their petrol stations on the highways.
“On the day when the lockdown was announced all across the country, nearly 250 trucks were heading towards Gujarat from Maharashtra. They all got stranded on National highways 6(NH-6). To help all these 250 drivers BPCL had made arrangements on BPCL outlets situated on the borders of Maharashtra-Gujrat states. The stranded drivers were given shelter in Shivansh petroleum where parking, food and other basic amenities were provided to drivers.” said Sunder Rajan, DGM, (Brand and PR) BPCL.
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