Truck operators across the country began an indefinite nationwide strike on Friday to demand a reduction in diesel prices and toll fees, PTI reported. The All-India Motor Transport Congress core committee announced the strike after talks between its representatives and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday night failed to provide a solution.
More than 93 lakh trucks and other goods vehicles will stay away from the road as part of the strike, which was announced on May 17. The daily loss is estimated to be Rs 4,000 crore.
Essential services have been exempted from the strike. Buses and tourist vehicle services, however, will be restricted.
“We held a meeting with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari yesterday but that was inconclusive,” Bal Malkit Singh, chairperson of the All-India Motor Transport Congress core committee, told PTI. “We met Finance Minister Piyush Goyal at 9.30 pm yesterday.”
The All-India Motor Transport Congress is an umbrella organisation of more than 3,500 transport associations, unions, and federations across all levels and states.
The truckers are unhappy with the current toll system, and alleged that it favours road concessionaires. They have demanded a more transparent system, and claimed that the time and fuel loss at toll plazas stands at Rs 1.5 trillion annually. The protestors want national permits for all buses and trucks, an abolition of the direct port delivery tendering system, and exemptions in direct taxes.
The truckers also cited challenges in operations after the e-way bill was introduced in April, said a Bloomberg report. “There is variance in policy and ground reality, making operations increasingly cumbersome and financially strained,” said Singh.
The organisation has support from members in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha, among other states, where transporters are on strike.
In Goa, the state government has invoked the Goa Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1988, to deter transporters from striking, reported The Times of India.