KOCHI: Container movement from the Vallarpadam Transshipment Terminal in Kochi came to a grinding halt on Saturday after trade unions and truck owners launched a flash strike. The truckers struck work after the parking spaces got jam-packed and traffic police slapped challans (fines) on the vehicles parked on the roadside.
Protesters said the strike will continue till the Cochin Port Trust allows parking of trucks on the LNG Terminal Road. A division bench of the Kerala High Court had directed the state government on Tuesday to initiate stringent action against illegal parking along the Container Terminal Road stretch.
Meanwhile, a joint convention of the Trade Unions Coordination Committee and Truck Owners’ Association held at Bolgatty Temple Hall on Saturday morning decided to go ahead with its plan to launch an indefinite strike from August 16 demanding allocation of proper parking space for trucks near the terminal.
“We are unable to operate services to Vallarpadam terminal as there is no parking space available here. All the four parking lots are full and the drivers have no other option but to park the vehicles on road side. With the police slapping challans on the trucks, we have no other option but to stop services,” said Cochin Container Carrier Owners Welfare Association president V P Chandrasekhara Menon.
He said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured to address their grievances and hold talks with the Port authorities to arrange alternative arrangements for parking.
“Truck drivers are under tremendous pressure as they are not able to park their vehicles and take rest. The port authorities are also not allowing the trucks to enter the premises. There is space available to park around 400 trucks on the LNG Terminal Road. But Port authorities have deployed CISF personnel at the gate to stop trucks from entering the stretch. In these circumstances, we have no option but to stop movement of containers,” said Trade Unions Coordination Committee convener Charles George. He said protest will be called off the moment the Port authorities allow parking on the LNG Terminal stretch.