Referring to the reported 23.9 per cent contraction in the country’s GDP due to coronavirus, Stalin asked the Union government not to engage in highway toll plunder, which would be a penalty slapped on hapless people who return to cities to start their life afresh. Instead, the Centre should help the public mitigate the economic crisis by considering concessions at toll plazas, Dhinakaran said.
Traders and lorry owners also complained that their profit margins are adversely affected due to increased diesel and toll charges. “On the behalf of the Tamil Nadu Vanigarsangangalin Peramaipu, we have asked the state and Centre to reduce the fuel price, toll charges and also open the suburban train services,” said A Vikrama Raja, president, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaipu.
“Business has seen an adverse effect due to the lockdown and the truck owners are demanding extra charges pointing out the increased diesel prices and toll charges,” said V Jothiraj, a wholesale pulse trader in Central Chennai fearing price rise in all commodities as a result.
For the past five months, truck drivers were badly hit, and the government has done nothing for them. Some of the lorries are now stranded due to repairs though 70 per cent of services has resume, said K Ezhumalai, a lorry owner based in Ambattur Industrial Estate seeking relief for the sector.