Bihar: Nearly 5 Lakh Trucks Join Indefinite Strike; Transport of Essential Goods Likely to be Hit
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: National Herald
Patna: As a two-member team of the Election Commission of India arrived in Patna on Monday ahead of the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls, thousands of trucks remained off the roads as part of an indefinite strike by the Bihar Truck Owners’ Association (BTOA).
BTOA went on strike early on Monday morning with a 21-point charter of demands including scrapping of the amended Motor Vehicles Act. The truck strike is set to badly hit everyday transportation and the supply of essential commodities and other goods in the state.
“We have called truck chakka jam hartal after the government failed to respond to our demands despite repeated requests. Truck owners have no option left but to strike to express protest,” BTOA president Bhanu Shekhar Prasad Singh said.
According to Singh, nearly five lakh truck owners have joined the strike and around 99% trucks are off the roads.
He said BTOA has been demanding the withdrawal of the amended Motor Vehicles Act and the restoration of heavy vehicles movement on some bridges, particularly J P Setu. It has also urged the government to take firm steps to check corruption in the Transport Department and illegal collection of charges or fines by the police.
BTOA’s general secretary, Rajesh Kumar said that the truck owners have been neglected by the state government and it has resulted into their business making losses. Kumar recalled that last year in October, truck owners launched an indefinite strike and we have ended it after assurances by the government to fulfil our demands. “But nearly a year after that, the government has not fulfilled our demands,” Kumar said.
Gopi Rai, a truck owner in Patna, said the strike will affect the supply of a number of commodities including food, grains, construction materials and luxury items among others. “Trucks’ strike is bound to hit the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has badly affected business. The transport sector is already going through a slowdown as business is witnessing decrease.”
On the first day of their strike, the truck owners and their staff reportedly staged protests on roads and near check posts in different districts across the state to ensure total strike of trucks. Long queues of trucks on roadsides disrupted normal traffic on several national highways and state highways. The trucks have been standing off the roads as well.
With the indefinite strike of trucks underway, the price of essential goods, fruits, vegetables and other goods are likely to go up in the coming days and people will have to pay more from their pockets.
Even though trucks are the lifeline of Bihar, state transport commissioner S K Agrawal claimed that the strike will not affect transportation and movement of goods.
Discontent is brewing among different sections of people in the run up to the elections. The truck owners’ strike follows an ongoing indefinite strike by daily-wage sanitation workers in Patna.
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