Addressing Truck Drivers’ needs during the COVID-19 crisis
The trucking industry is the lifeline of India’s economy, moving goods across the length and breadth of the country. The significance of their role is further magnified at a time like this when we are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and the nation is under lockdown to contain it, and essential goods such as food, medical supplies and protective equipment need to be delivered to different parts of the country. Just like the healthcare workers who are risking their lives to take care of those affected and keep us safe, the truck drivers are literally fighting the battle out for us, on our streets and highways.
At this time, the health and safety of truck drivers becomes an extremely critical issue, not just for themselves but also for others who may be coming in contact with them (or with the goods they are handling). This issue is exacerbated by the fact that majority of the truck drivers come from poor educational backgrounds and lack the awareness on public health issues. Moreover, they are also unable to keep an active track of the news and advisory on the Coronavirus as they are constantly on the road.
It is here that the role of the different stakeholders in the trucking industry becomes more important than ever to work together and address the needs of the driver community. A few important actions taken in this regard are highlighted below.
- > The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which is an apex body representing more than 9 million truckers, is working with its members to educate the driver community on safe practices such as hand washing, use of hand sanitizers and masks, social distancing wherever possible and need for hospital visit and self quarantine if suspected symptoms are observed.
- > The All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA), which is another apex body of the road transport sector, is liaisoning with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to i) issue clear policy guidelines for the trucking industry during this crisis to prevent confusion and ii) ease the burden on the truckers through toll waivers and removal of restrictions at border crossings, among other things.
- > The International Road Transport Union (IRU), which is the global industry association for road transporters, is giving regular updates and advising it’s global member community through their dedicated page for COVID-19.
- > The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has setup a control room to address issues of transportation and delivery of essential goods in real time.
- > The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken a decision to suspend collection of tolls at all toll plazas in the country to allow the seamless movement of essential commodities.
In addition to the above actions, there is a critical need to explore how digital technologies can be used to help the transportation sector at large and the driver community in particular which has been affected severely by this crisis. It is here that companies such as Intents Mobi, in collaboration with others from the technology industry, can help the government and the trucking industry by developing innovative technology driven solutions at scale in areas such as, but not limited to,
- > Real time information dissemination, education and awareness building for drivers; and
- > Real time identification of ground level challenges and disruptions, and ideas for timely policy interventions for government agencies and policy makers.
And while you and I as individuals can’t do much to aid our truckers right now during the lockdown, do remember to #ThankOurTruckers. The next time you meet a trucker on the highway once we have overcome this crisis, thank them for being on the road, so that you could stay safely in your homes.