The business of truckers has almost come to a halt, with India entering the new currency age due to demonetisation. The truck drivers are feeling doomed owing to the sudden decline in demand for transportation of goods and non-availability of exchange money making their daily life even more austere.
“I was on my way from Lucknow when the announcement was made and came to know about when I stopped at a dhaba to eat something. As soon as I sat on the table, the servant told us, ‘you can sit only if you have change because we are not accepting Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes’,” said Sarvjit Singh, a truck driver who arrived on Thursday after delivering goods for Sewak Singh Transport. He usually carries out assignments in Uttar Pradesh.
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Majority of the trucks are parked in the Chandigarh Transport Area due to inadequate availability of the new notes and paucity of money as one truck needs around Rs 25,000 to embark on a long journey. On a daily basis, transporters have been incurring huge losses due to non-availability of cash and by limiting bank withdrawal to Rs 4,500, the truckers can’t even pay their daily expenses.
Balbir Chand, manager at Sewak Singh Transport, said, “In the transport business, everything is done with cash in hand and, as of now, there is no cash flow in the market, thereby making our life miserable. Earlier, we would send around eight to nine trucks daily to deliver goods. But now, only one or two odd trucks are dispatched.” Chand and the workers have been watching television for the last four days as there is no work.
Cash crunch is not the only problem. The trucks, which were midway to deliver goods, are facing serious issues as the goods takers are making payments in Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 only. If the driver refuses to take them, then they are sent back without the goods being offloaded.
“According to the new norm, in case I am getting a payment of Rs 4-5 lakh for delivering goods by offloading seven to eight trucks and then take the payment to deposit in banks, I will have to pay 200 per cent penalty and extra tax as well. How am I going to survive and pay the employees working under me,” wondered Harwinder Singh, owner of Indian Ex-Serviceman Transport, adding that the main problem on the road was hotels and dhabas denying food to drivers as no one is ready to accept the old notes.
On a day-to- day basis, a tranporter has to bare expenses worth Rs 500 for a truck driver. Besides, they are losing out on Rs 2,000-2,500 more per day more due to tax and insurance expenses. On the other, the drivers are the biggest losers as they have been finding it hard to make enough money to pay their monthly instalments to banks against their truck loans. “I have to pay around Rs 35,000 as instalment to banks every month. With my vehicle standing stationary for the last five days, it will be very difficult to pay this month’s instalment. Moreover, there is no one to lend money as no one has cash at the moment.”