Only 10 pc lorries on roads as drivers refuse trips to hotspots

An unprecedented shortage of drivers has led to over 90 per cent of trucks staying off the roads thus taking a toll on transportation of essential commodities in Tamil Nadu.
Only 10 pc lorries on roads as drivers refuse trips to hotspots

Coimbatore

Despite the government’s intervention and assurance for hassle-free transportation of essentials, the absence of drivers continues to hit the crucial transportation sector. In fact, the drivers, most of them from north Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, have fled to their native villages following the lockdown due to COVID-19.
“Even if we persuade them over phone to come to duty, they are in no mood to return unless and until the situation returns to normal. The remaining drivers, only a few thousands from Southern districts, are also scared to transport goods to some States considering the risk factors,” said MR Kumaraswamy, president of the State Lorry Owners Federation, Tamil Nadu. Currently, less than 10 per cent of the 4.5 lakh lorries are being operated in the State.
“Drivers are sceptical about transporting goods to Maharashtra, which peaks in COVID-19 infections and witnesses frequent breakout of law and order issues. Also, drivers are reluctant to go to Andhra Pradesh, where they claim to face harassment by police, who were not allowing them to operate citing curfew norms,” he added. A few days ago, about 300 lorries from Tamil Nadu brought essential goods from Maharashtra. It was the last bulk transportation of essentials. “I am too scared to drive to other States as we don’t get even proper food. I have decided to wait for few more weeks and would get back to duty only if the situation improves,” said S Venkatakrishnan, a driver from Salem. Besides shortage of drivers, the lorry owners also rued that they are met with severe loss as they get to ferry goods only one way.

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