The Indian trucking industry is the core of logistics movement and country’s growth. According to vice-president of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), more than 12 crore people in the country are directly and indirectly dependent on the freight transport industry for their living. However, this segment is highly unorganised and faces several challenges.
The structure of the trucking industry is commercially very dynamic. Customers move their goods almost entirely through third party players, rather than through their own fleet. The core actors directly serving the customers are the trucking company, brokers or agents and pure truck owners. This core set of actors are supported by truck manufacturers, truck body builders, drivers and fuel suppliers. The core set of actors have an ecosystem constituting support services, government and regulatory bodies.
Considering that trucking operations and its efficiency is of primary importance in the growth and development of any economy and society, it is estimated that by 2022, there will be only 480 drivers per 1000 trucks, which will have serious implications on the Indian Economy. In our society, drivers lack respect. Also dis-attachment from home for several days is the major cause of non interest for today’s generation in entering long distance truck driving. They are most affected due to long working hours, poor sanitation, poor food standards and poor pay packets. A truck driver’s life in India regularly figures in the list of worst jobs in the country. The life expectancy of a truck driver is at least 10 years less than the national average.
Various steps need to be taken at policy level for improving the lives of truck drivers and helpers and regularising the overall logistic sector. A good example is various private players entering this market like “Rivigo”. This company has resorted to relay model, as they have setup pit spots, a place along the highways where one driver hands over the truck to another for further journey and a truck driver will be on the road for around 10 hours before going back home, as they live close to the pit spots. It uses technology to roster duty at pit stops, schedule pick-ups and deliveries. It helps in creating positive work environment for their employees i.e. truck drivers.
Similar actions need to be taken by the government authorities to regularise the overall logistics sector, which can be initiated through following steps:
- Increased focus on the duty hours and rest requirements given by Motor Transport Workers Act for truck drivers.
- Financial regulations relating to insurances/loans and Motor Vehicle Act Regulations relating to driver license, over loading and emission norms etc. should be more stringent.
- High quality road infrastructure, improved truck cab design for driver comfort and scientific cargo loading practices need emphasis.
- ICT, including truck based video cameras can be used more effectively to bring in visibility for better security support .
- Road engineering, signages, driver training and licensing, driving practices and vehicle maintenance need significant attention. Post-accident support is also critical to minimise loss of life and limb. This would be addressed by better roadside support for emergency assistance.
The sustainability of trucking sector can be combated by better technologies, maintenance and driving practices. A lot needs to happen to enable streamlined movement of trucks across the country. Apart from removing inter-state check posts, electronic tolling needs immediate attention.
References:Study on Trucking operations in India – problems and potential by Asian Institute of Transport Development and Central Institute of Road Transport An Overview of the Trucking Sector in India: Significance and Structure by G. Raghuram – Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad International Journal of Operations and Logistics Management, Volume: 3, Issue: 3, Pages: 222-240 (September 2014)