Truck freight rates up, drivers not reporting for duty as industries set to open up from Monday – Times of India


NEW DELHI: As the government prepares to open up factories in designated green zones from Monday, freight rates have started firming up with trucking companies and associations blaming loss of business on key routes as well as shortage of drivers, helpers and loaders who they say are not ready to come back despite being offered joining bonuses.
With entry into states and industrial routes remaining constrained and low availability of trucking fleet and commercial business, freight rates across key routes are already up by 20-30% in some cases, with many transporters even charging more, truckers, booking companies and industry associations told TOI.
Red zones are interspersed across the green/safe industrial corridors, making the movement of goods through road often challenging. Often trucks are stranded due to multiple checking points, lack of labour, and the need for a plethora of clearance permits.
“A truck coming from Pune to Delhi, carrying grapes, is now costing Rs 90,000 against the Rs 70,000 earlier as we are not getting any return cargo. Also, if a vehicle breaks down, repair is not easily available. Sometimes it takes days to get them fixed,” All-India Motor Transport Corporation (AIMTC) president Kultaran Singh Atwal said.
Iswar Singh Sigar, CEO of the freight division at transportation major TCI, said that against the general practice of carrying load to and fro to save on costs, trucks today are getting cargo only from the point of origin.
“For example, a 16-tonner carrying cargo such as foodgrains, medicines or pesticides and seeds from Delhi to Kolkata does not get any business when it is returning to the national capital. How do we operate like this? In such cases, we make up only by increasing the rates which have now gone up from around Rs 60,000 that was charged previously to as much as Rs 95,000 now.”
Sigar said that many drivers are not ready to join back for work, and are also facing pressure from their families to stay at home. “The families are not letting them travel. Also, with various social-sector relief measures announced by the central and state governments, many families are getting adequate food and aid just by being home. So, they are not in any hurry to return for work.”
Truckers claim that that even the vehicles that are carrying essentials such as medicines, foodstock and other relief material, are getting stuck at many places due to various restrictions.
Karthik Jayaraman CEO & Co-founder of agri-tech WayCool Foods that sources fruits and vegetables directly from farmers, says that on an average, the company has seen a 10% hike in cost for in-bound trucks. “We have not seen significant change in rates for outbound or distribution trucks. There has been a marginal increase in logistics costs, but we are not passing it on to the customers.”
Vishwananth Karmadi, National Head (Operations) at Karnataka-headquartered VRL Logistics (that manages a fleet of 4,500 trucks), says that as many as 100 trucks of the company are currently stranded in Delhi. “Our trucks are struck, and business is negligible. We are waiting for operations to begin from Monday, and are hoping that we get cargo to be moved towards the south.”
Puneet Agarwal, president of CJ Darcl Logistics whose company manages 1,000 trucks and is in the transport of steel, petro-chemicals, minerals, and pharma, said that getting access to staff is turning out to be very challenging.
“We have even offered to give a joining bonus of Rs 20,000. But still, most of the drivers are very reluctant to come back. They are from states like UP and Bihar, and their village heads have threatened that whoever travels out now, will not be allowed to enter back freely.”
Pradeep Singal, chairman of All-India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA), said that truckers have even doubled salaries for drivers in many places, but still it’s challenging to find many takers.


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