CHENNAI: So far, it had just been shallots, curry leaves and a few other vegetables. Soon, the price of all essential commodities is set to witness a spike as the Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners’ Federation has hiked freight charges by 30 per cent from Thursday. The move comes amid spiralling fuel prices in the country.
The federation’s general body meeting in Chennai on Wednesday passed a resolution in this regard.
As per its minutes, per tonne transportation fare has been increased by Rs 150 for distance below 100 km, and by Rs 250 to travel above 100 km. The Chennai-based federation’s president, Murugan Venkatachalam, said: “The truckers’ businesses are on the verge of collapse and it is impossible to ferry commodities going by the old rates.” According to him, the freight charge was last increased in 2006, and then was reduced by Rs 100 per tonne in 2017, with the implementation of GST.
“In the past 15 years, the prices of all commodities have increased up to 20 times, but we are forced to collect old prices,” he said.Explaining the new charges, Venkatachalam said, “To ferry goods from Chennai to Madurai, Rs 1,300 was collected per tonne, so far. It will now become Rs 1,550 per tonne.” The federation has over 300 members, representing associations of all light commercial vehicles, mini trucks, water tanker lorries, sand lorries, and the ones used to transport vegetables.
Truckers rued that the Centre had not made any efforts to control fuel prices, and they were forced to transfer the financial burden on people. “We want fuel prices to be brought under GST,” he said. A lorry owner recalled that in 2018, the Centre’s decision to increase the gross vehicle weight of trucks in order to increase the carrying capacity up to 25 per cent had created a havoc.
“The move was initially hailed as it would substantially reduce the logistics cost. However, without making any change in the vehicle’s body, the decision to increase carrying capacity has damaged vehicles. The tyres often burst and the maintenance cost rose by 25 per cent since 2018,” said a truck owner.
Meanwhile, the South India Motor Transport Association and TN Lorry Owners’ Federation have scheduled general body meetings on March 9 and 11, respectively. A decision on an indefinite strike from March 15 will be taken during the meeting, an officer-bearer of the truckers’ association said.