Truckers' Strike May Affect Sankranti, Id-Milad Spirit
By Express News Service | Published: 13th January 2014 08:24 AM |
This week’s festivities may turn out to be a costly affair, thanks to the indefinite truckers’ strike. Perishable items such as fruits, vegetables and flowers may especially be hard to come by with the Karnataka Goods Association lending support and joining the strike called by the Federation of Karnataka Lorry Owners and Agents Association (FKLOAA).
Petrol, auto gas and supply of foodgrains may also be affected during the course of the next two weeks.
While the FKLOAA has maintained that the supply of essential commodities such as eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, etc. will not be affected, Aiyub Khan, Secretary of the All Traders Association in KR Market said, “Flowers, fruits and vegetables supply is likely to be affected although the vendors are trying to arrange smaller vehicles which will help in transporting these items into the city. Many truckers and goods transport vehicle owners have said they will not be supplying items.”
“We have also asked for police protection, especially in areas near Hosur, so that we are not stopped and there are no untoward incidents when the tempos bring in the flowers etc.,” he said.
With foodgrains being stocked ahead of time, the supply of rice, maize, wheat, etc. may not be a problem, at least for the next two weeks. “The stock at the APMC yard at Yeshwantpur is likely to last about two weeks. Although the goods transporters joined the strike on the midnight of Saturday, since vehicles do not come on Sundays, today was not a problem at all. But from Monday, the supply to the APMC may not come in,” said Ramesh Chandra Lahotti of the Bangalore Foodgrains Merchants’ Association.
Oil companies are likely to press into services company-owned tankers if the strike continues beyond Thursday. According to Bhushan Narang, Chairman of the Petroleum Dealers’ Association, “We have stock to last till Thursday and as such there will be no shortage of petrol, diesel or auto LPG. If we run out, there are company-owned tankers which will be pressed into service.”
G R Shanmugappa, President of the FKLOAA, however, maintains that supply of essential commodities will not be affected. “We have asked that supply of milk, medicines, eggs, vegetables, fruits not be affected. We do not want to inconvenience the people,” he said.
He, however, said some truckers who transport multiple goods - such as sand and vegetables - have decided to join the protest. “These are perhaps the people who have said fruits and vegetables also will not be transported. These are very few in number,” he said.
Who Are Participating in the Strike
The strike was called by the FKLOAA to demand that the number of permits provided for transporting sand be increased. The FKLOAA said that while the sand policy is a welcome move, the fact that it says nothing about transporting sand is a serious lapse. “The state requires about 18,000 loads of sand and Bangalore about 3,000 loads. The government has provided only 1,400 permits. This means that we are forced to transport 16,600 loads of sand illegally,” said Shanmugappa.
“We want proper sand permits, depending on the load requirement of the state. Every day, each trucker pays about `6,000 as bribe to various officials. As many as 1,602 cases have been filed against truckers for transporting sand and 462 trucks have been seized,” he said. He claims that the State government is not increasing the number of permits because legalising sand transport will mean less bribe.
The strike has been going on for the last 23 days. On the midnight of Saturday, taxi operators and goods transporters decided to show solidarity with the KFLOAA.
Beginning Saturday midnight, the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners Association (BTTOA) and the Karnataka Goods Association expressed support to the FKLOAA and joined the strike, with their own demands.
Karnataka Goods Transporters Association
The association decided to join the protest from Saturday midnight. They are demanding a reduction in taxes on diesel, restriction on overloads, construction of truck terminals in all district headquarters, etc.
Demands of Tourist taxi owners
Taxi Associations are demanding that the State government revise its rule to provide badges to only those drivers who have completed their Class 10, to reduce taxes and to provide better parking facility. “At least 50 per cent of taxis stayed off the roads. With the All India Motor Transport Congress (South Zone) also providing external support to the strike, vehicles from other states did not enter Karnataka,” said Radhakrishna Holla, secretary, BTTOA. However, with the airport taxis and buses operating, airport travellers did not seem to have too much of a problem. BTTOA has said that they will continue the indefinite strike.