Thefts and virus spread pose double whammy for truck drivers

Truck drivers on the highways are now facing a double whammy – fear of Covid-19 and theft. Rakesh (name changed to protect identity), a 50-year old truck driver from Uttar Pradesh, who drove from Delhi recently to drop off cargo in the East, would have been back home by now — if his truck carrying medicines were not hijacked, he not beaten up, and if the pending police investigation would not have prevented him from heading back. He is now stuck in West Bengal, waiting for the police investigation to be over, facing another danger as novel coronavirus spreads wider.

This may be a one-off heist that has come to light, but in general, transporters have become careful now, says Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), transport tracking body. “Desperate times push people to take desperate measures. Given the present challenges, trucks drivers move in groups, avoid travelling at night and also choose dhabas carefully,” said SP Singh, Senior Fellow, IFTRT. There are instances of loot and theft of trucks even as the drivers and truck community get infected by a coronavirus, said All India Motor Transport Congress’s (AIMTC) Secretary-General Navin Gupta.

The most vulnerable sections of drivers and labourers have become carriers of coronavirus, AIMTC has said as it reiterated the need to have INR50 lakh insurance for drivers. AIMTC is aware of several cases of community transmission in the transporter community. Mahendra Arya, National President, All India Transporters Welfares Association (AITWA) has asked all corporates and industries to care for drivers by providing security for their loaded trucks and not making them wait in scorching heat now that road transport sector has recovered to 40 per cent of business after lockdown.

On the heist that has happened near Kolkata, Mukesh Bhatia, who owns the truck, told BusinessLine when contacted, “The driver (who is now with the police) has been employed with me for last 25 years. In the last 35 years, I have operated trucks on the Delhi-Kolkata route and never have any products been stolen.” “As the truck had GPS, we were able to track the truck back in five hours.

However, all the cartons were stolen by then,” Bhatia said, adding that he was able to speak to the driver on Saturday. Bhatia is now waiting for his container truck and driver to return, which is possible after the enquiry is over. OM Logistics, the bigger transport company who had hired the truck, has already taken up the issue with police in Murshidabad.

On when the driver can get back home, OM Logistics’ Gupta declined to comment stating that it would depend on when the investigation would be complete. “Though all precautions were taken, we will have to be much more careful in future, especially with high-value full load cargo. For us, a big challenge is containing trust of customers,” Gupta said, whose clients include many multinationals.

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments. We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day.

We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime. But all this comes at a heavy cost.

As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support.

I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support. I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy.

You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions.

We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism

You may also like...