All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) on Monday said there is a threat of community transmission in the road transport sector as a large number of truckers across various states have become infected with COVID-19.
AIMTC is the apex body of transporters representing about 95 lakh truckers and such entities.
Large number of truckers in Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have become infected with coronavirus and in many cases entire families have been infected and quarantined, AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal told PTI.
Transporters have been consistently asking the government for implementing safety measures for the drivers and labourers who in fact have become carriers of coronavirus, he said and added that more than 20 crore people associated with the transport sector face the risk of getting infected.
"Our worst fears are coming true. There has been increasing number of cases of COVID-19 among the transport community as the information trickles in from across the country. Their entire families are infected and quarantined," Atwal said.
AIMTC Secretary General Naveen Kumar Gupta said under such circumstances where the transporters do not have adequate finance for sustenance of their families or to pay for their statutory compliances they are being forced to remain off roads.
"Coronavirus could explode among this vulnerable population sooner than it is expected as the community transmission has taken its foothold in the road transport sector," Gupta warned.
AIMTC former President Bal Malkit Singh said vehicles are getting stranded as the transporters are not having enough money to run their vehicles not there is any demand in the market. "More than the statutory compliances, corruption is taking toll of the transport trade," he said.
In near future more vehicles will go off the roads widening the demand supply deficit, he warned.
Singh said these will result in increase in freight rates, pressure on essential supply chain and loss of livelihood.
"We asked for minimum rescue package from the government like waiver of interest on Equated Monthly Installment (EMIs), extension of validity of statutory documents to run vehicles, extension of validity of motor insurance, waiver of state taxes, loans etc but in vain," Singh said.
Alleging that the government seems to have turned a blind eye towards their plight, transporters have been warning that prevailing circumstances may compel them to take vehicles off the road if no relief is announced to mitigate the impact of coronavirus-related lockdown.