Truckers body seeks toll suspension on NH, claims small players will be worst hit

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NEW DELHI: A major truckers and transporters organization has said soon a large number of trucker owners may not be able to run their vehicles, even for essential commodities, if the government goes ahead with resuming toll collection across NH network from Monday.

AIMTC president Kultaran Singh Atwal said, “There is a strong reaction from our transport fraternity on the ground against the resumption of tolling. Majority of the truckers have one to five trucks and they won’t be able to sustain the immediate financial pressure. The suspension of toll is warranted in current hour of crisis.”

He claimed that toll expenses is about 16-20% of the operating costs of a truck and in light of poor demand and minimal freights, this burden will be very hard to bear for transporters.

The association had pleaded government for extending the toll waiver till October end or till there is complete normalcy. “At present, it may be extended at least till present lockdown period of May 3, to provide some relief to the transporters,” AIMTC said.

It said the government is also yet to come out with any relief for the transport sector and is yet to provide safety net to the drivers and co-workers engaged in essential supplies. “Who will be responsible if any driver or co-worker is infected with Coronavirus? Any positive case will further alienate the drivers and they will not come back to work,” Atwal said.

Though an inter-ministerial group had recommended announcing insurance or ex-gratia for drivers and helpers engaged in essential supply, the formal announcement has not yet been made. Truckers said they have been waiting for long time.

Truckers have also alleged how the government has preferred to fill its coffer by increasing excise duty on petrol and diesel rather than reducing the fuel price despite the crude oil prices are abysmally low.

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