HYDERABAD: Truckers in Telangana have decided to throw their weight behind the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) which plans to seek some relief from the Centre in the wake of the sharp increase in fuel prices.
They are, in fact, planning to observe a bandh on February 26, even though the AIMTC has not decided on a date for an all-India strike yet. The AIMTC has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, seeking the slashing of Central taxes on diesel and ensuring uniformity in the price across the country, among others.
Speaking to Express, Bal Malkit Singh, AIMTC chairman, said: “We have given a 14-day notice to the Centre. Once this expires, we will have a meeting and announce the date for the strike.”But truck operators in Telangana have deiced to go on strike, regardless of what the AIMTC decides. “For now, we are calling a strike on February 26,” TS Lorry Owners Association president M Rajender Reddy said.
“Nearly 1.5 lakh heavy goods vehicle owners will participate in it, along with 20,000 small goods carriers owners. On the day, we will hold protests at many places in the State and burn effigies of Modi, Sitharaman and Gadkari,” Telangana Lorry Owners Association president M Rajender Reddy said.Though petrol and diesel prices are decided by the Centre, the State governments can always reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) and local cess, which are different in different States. “We also urge the State government to help us, or else we will hold a protest against them as well,” he said.
The continuous rise in fuel prices has made things worse for lorry owners, who were beginning to recover from the losses incurred by the lockdown. “The fuel price hike will hit only small lorry owners. Unlike big transport operators, we cannot absorb the burden or pass it on to the customer as it would turn them away. The big players already have a monopoly in the market. At a time when there is so much competition among small lorry owners, we cannot even think of increasing charges,” Rajender Reddy said.
The rising prices made things worse for lorry owners, who are recovering from lockdown effect