Driving on the freeways for an ordinary man is a pleasure today, with roads comparable to some of the best in the world. But for truckers, the lack of basic infrastructure such as toilets and rest areas makes motorway driving a âpainfulâ experience, especially when one has to answer the call of nature.
India has the second largest road network in the world of over 62 lakh km including national highways, highways, national roads, main district roads, other district roads and village roads. There are nearly 10 million trucks in the country. In 2012, the Center considered a program whereby every 50 km there will be a rest area for truck drivers. However, it remains on paper, say the truckers.
The misfortunes of truckers
Chennai truck driver Manickam laments the lack of basic facilities on the highways. You can’t stop the truck on the highways and answer the urgent call of nature. It can be dangerous and cause accidents. âWe need more places to rest. No one thinks of us and looks from our points of view. We mainly depend on the roadside dhabas who have poor facilities, âhe adds.
Agreeing with Manickam, Vipul Bansal, secretary of the Bombay Goods Transport Association, says there are no facilities on most of the highways, even though huge sums are spent on building roads. Gas bunks are commercial establishments and have limited space. Dedicated parking lots should be available, so that drivers can rest, if they have to drive eight hours. Otherwise, they’ll only worry about the safety of their cargo or truck, he says.
Namakkal-based truck owner SP Mohan says that for every 50 km there should be a resting place with basic facilities for drivers. Most truck parking areas do not have toilets. The facilities available are also not well maintained, he adds.
The All-India Transporters’ Welfare Association in a letter to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, said that during a pandemic, when trucks were stranded and everything was closed, the infrastructure of base on the highways were extremely poor.
In many truck parking areas, there was no potable water supply and the association had to arrange to send bottled water to stranded drivers making SOS calls to the line. assistance from the association.
“These issues make it really difficult for our industry to attract new drivers and therefore the driver to truck ratio is going down,” said association president Mahendra Arya.
âWe urge that these wayside developments be thoroughly audited and that the deficiencies be corrected by the contractors. You will always be remembered for creating such a world-class motorway network. However, please don’t let our country fall short of international standards for driver welfare across the network, âhe said.
âThe lack of basic amenities for truck drivers on the highways is a serious problem and has been discussed over the past two decades,â said SP Singh, senior researcher and coordinator of the Indian Foundation for Research and Training. transport (IFTRT).
If the toll, road tax, and road tax are collected by the government, then the government is required to have road amenities for the hapless truck drivers who work 24/7.
While the government spends 30 percent of the revenues collected on road transport and its welfare, transporters barely spend 2-3 percent of their revenues on the welfare of truck and bus drivers. Truckers should also be involved in providing basic facilities, he said.
A senior National Highways official disagrees with the truckers’ claims. All large gasoline-powered berths have such facilities and the drivers can use them. There are also rest areas created on the highways, he adds.