Express press service
CHENNAI: India’s road freight fleet has been hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic, with fleet utilization of around 35-40% as lockdowns strangled aggregate demand. The result was a cumulative drop of 23 to 27 percent in truck rentals in April and May 2021, according to the Indian Transportation Research and Training Foundation (IFTRT).
According to SP Singh, senior researcher, IFTRT, while a dynamic harvest season has helped the road freight segment, recent cyclones on the west coasts and combined with new closures to contain the virus have resulted in “a fall cumulative truck rentals 23-27% in April-May 2021, with fleet utilization plunging to 35-40%.
As fuel prices continue to rise sharply, truck operators have been hit with a double whammy. “Poor truckers are not able to pay their IMEs. On May 29, 2020, the price of diesel was Rs 66.19, while on May 29, 2021, the price of diesel was Rs 92.23…. Difference of Rs 26.04. Over the past year, operating costs have increased by around 30%, ”said Kultaran Singh Atwal, President of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).
The industry body called on the government to reduce excise duties and state VAT on fuel, a monthly or quarterly fuel pricing system instead of the current daily price review regime, and a crackdown on the corruption among transport officials.