ADDRESSING SHORTAGE OF TRUCK DRIVERS

Addressing Shortage of Truck Drivers

Trucking sector is the Gordian knot in India’s logistics sector commanding two –thirds of the intermodal share in Freight. Despite being the real translators of the cargo movement, Truck drivers have not been given the due importance needed and the sector currently faces a shortage of 28-30% of drivers. Truck driving is an unattractive profession due to multiple reasons like harsh work environment characterized by low & erratic remuneration, long working hours, inadequate resting facilities, lack of social security net, improper access to healthcare lack of formal training in skill, digital & financial domain etc.

The shortage of drivers is a major impediment in an efficient logistics network, not only it causes economic loss due to idling of trucks but also has a huge sociological impact due to accidents caused directly or indirectly by trucks. About 700 lacs truck drivers and their families aggregating to about 5 cr people are affected by the aforesaid.

Further, stressed & fatigued drivers are prone to accidents. The economic losses due to this shortage and overworked drivers includes loss of productive manpower, pay-outs in claims and compensation, litigation costs under Motor Vehicle Act, loss of property and goods etc.

States and the central Government of India therefore need to work in tandem to provide 360 degrees support to truck drivers- improving all aspects of their challenged lives.

Training and Skill Upgradation is one of the areas where states can play an active role. Training in driving, maintenance, safety aspects and commercial literacy can be imparted at initial stage before grant of license. Highway Amenities/centres can be planned along state highways to provide adequate facilities for rest, hygienic food, safe parking and basic vehicle repairs etc. PPP models need to be explored for this purpose. Resting facilities can also be provided at freight handling terminals, transhipment points, peri-urban areas etc.

The Drivers Employment and Empowerment Program is proposed as a synergetic and comprehensive response. Addressing the issues faced by Truck drivers was a key point in the First States Conference on Logistics Sessions held on 19th January, 2021 by Logistics Division.

Listed here are the initiatives taken by states presented in the conference:

  1. Maharashtra – Samriddhi corridor – having the wayside amenities Integrated Logistics Park with all the amenities are planned at almost 100 places.
  2. Telangana – Driver Empowerment programmes in association with Maruti Motors and SBI, Assistance to purchase vehicles in terms of subsidies, Creation of Truck hubs on PPP to provide state of art facilities for drivers.
  3. Rajasthan – OEMs training centre for heavy vehicles. RSLDC plans to train 5000 drivers in level 4 NSQF courses in road safety & vehicle

The panel during the breakout session came up with pragmatic and valuable suggestions for addressing the shortage of drivers:

Telangana

  1. Ensuring social security net for drivers by collaborating with corporate & insurance companies to provide full family coverage during difficult times like the pandemic
  2. Mechanism to have a real time monitoring & enforcement of rules for work & rest hours
  3. Rechristen Truck Driver to “Truck pilots” etc
  4. Mechanism to link Truck Insurance with Driver skills instead of Truck condition
  5. Developing Truck Aggregation Models to introduce healthy competition in the Trucking industry and ensuring stability in drivers employment
  6. Promoting the OEMs, Tyre companies etc through regulatory framework for providing hygienic accommodation and food en-route, say at service stations etc

Bihar

  1. Digital intervention to create a common repository of Truck drivers instead of SECC 2011 data and leveraging smart card for welfare to embark on Total Security Scheme including access to welfare schemes like “Ayushman Bharat”
  2. States agreed to work on schemes to mobilize resources through PPP and other models –putting at the front, the logistic service providers and user industries who shall benefit from the improved logistic efficiencies. It was decided to organize a skill conference for “Driver Empowerment & Employment” with trucking associations and other important stakeholders to conclude on an action plan giving tangible benefits
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