Truck drivers should be given e-voting rights, say transporters

If given e-voting rights, the 90,000-odd drivers in the trucking industry, who are always on the roads, would help strengthen democracy, said transporters on Wednesday. “Our drivers have the voter cards, but they can’t vote…if a driver is in Guwahati during elections and his voter card is of Delhi, how can he vote? So, basically, we don’t have voting rights.

Therefore, we request for e-voting rights from the government,” Ramesh Agarwal, Chairman, Agarwal Packers & Movers, and Patron, All India Transporters’ Welfare Association, said here. Acknowledging their demand, Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Shipping and Road Transport, has asked them to write to the Election Commission and the Home Minister, requesting for the same. In a panel discussion at the BusinessLine Transporters Meet 2020, Agarwal said the drivers (called ‘saarthis’) should also have a ‘reason to believe’ the government has confidence in them as the live under the constant fear of the local police or homeguards, who stop them under the pretext of checking the papers, only to demand a bribe.

 

Roadblocks

SK Mittal, Chairman, All India Motor Transport Congress, agreed that such incidents are the bane of the the transport industry.

He added that the ‘multi-regime’ goods and services tax (GST) is also one of the major reasons for the industry’s slowdown. Speaking on the BS-VI norms that are set to kick in from April 1, the panelists said the only issue is the rise in costs because of the transition.

Rise in prices of trucks, fuel

“There will be a 30 per cent rise in the price of the trucks, but the rent of the truck will always come down. We don’t think the transporters would buy the new trucks for the next five-six months,” Agarwal added.

There will be a rise in the prices of the fuel also, which will hurt the transport sector. Shyam Bohra, Executive Director and Head, Delhi State Office, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), however, said there will be a minimal rise in fuel costs, but in the long run, it will help everyone. He added that the fear of lack of fuel supply is misplaced.

Not only IOC, but most of the oil marketing companies will ensure uninterrupted supply of BS-VI fuel from April 1. “There is synchronisation of all refineries now, and all are supplying BS-VI fuel. Prices will be a bit higher, but there will be benefits in future, apart from better climate for us to live in,” Bohra added.

The panel session was moderated by Shishir Sinha, Senior Deputy Editor, BusinessLine.

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