DASS SPEAK:Ghar Waapsi of Truck Owners: A national priority

By Chittranjan Dass, Editor, SAARC Journal of Transport

The movement of goods by road becoming ever popular, both on intra-State and inter-State stretches, led to the emergence of organized Goods Transport Agencies (GTAs) owning fleet of trucks of adequate strength as being integral to their business.

The concept was that booking, transporting and delivering of goods for hire and trucks used for carrying goods from place to place, were much like two wheels of any cart i.e. goods road transport. Their moving together in sync was essential for smooth running of the cart i.e. goods road transport. The entire fleet of trucks operated by any GTA was not necessarily owned by them. They, as well, encouraged individuals to buy trucks and attach to the GTA as equity.

The GTAs, in turn, considered, even such attached trucks, akin to their owned ones and the profitability of the attached trucks used to be the bounden responsibility of the attaching GTAs.

With passage of time, things began to change and a few entreprenures, having entirely a different vision, entered the business of goods transportation by road. For them possessing of own or attached fleet of trucks was absolutely avoidable. Instead their emphasis was in investing in more and more number of branches in premises which were self- owned.

Initially, both the systems worked simultaneously for some time. But capital investment in owning fleet of trucks as against operating a GTA sans own fleet ended up in Fleet owning GTAs being overwhelmed by Non-Fleet owning GTAs. The tragic outcome of this change happened to be that an army of truck owning entreprenures being thrown out of a comparatively secure system.

So to say, lakhs of self-employed individuals, who, as well, were source for generating many times more employment for both skilled and non-skilled persons, were ousted out of security of a home to the wilderness and vulnerabilities of the Highways.

Consequently among the various segments in the goods transport business, it is the goods carriage owners, who are in most pitiable State, not-withstanding the fact that friends and foes alike admit that trucks are the life-lime for the country’s economic growth.

Having borrowed huge sums of money from financing companies (since public sector banks don’t  touch them by a barge-pole) at higher rate of interest for purchasing of trucks, uncertainty of availability of loads, being in no position of demanding economic rate of freight, burdened with the curse of paying loading / unloading and clerkage charges from out of the meagre freight charges, doled out by Lorry Supplies / brokers, added to that the vagaries of moving on highways at the mercy of police, transport department officials  besides the patronized goons, the life of goods carriage owners is becoming miserable beyond imagination.

For relief from such deep rooted maladies, among various options, apparently the most humane and lasting one is that the security of a House from which the truck owners had been ousted out on to the roads, should be brought back to the comfort and security of similar home.

Government just take note of it, in larger interest of the socio-economic development of the company.