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The first 10 days of the Covid- 19 Lockdown have been a period of confusion for truck drivers and truck owners. In the absence of clarity on passes for trucks, many trucks have been left stranded on highways as the drivers have returned to their homes due to the lack of a better option.
- Truck Driver’s license is valid to be considered as a pass for intra and inter state movement of all trucks / goods / carrier vehicles (containing one driver and 1 additional person).
- It is advisable for the driver of an empty truck to carry the invoice, waybill of the delivery that he just made, or, of the pick up which he is about to make.
- Local authorities are supposed to facilitate movement of the driver and an additional person from their homes to the trucks.
With the objective of clarifying on all issues pertaining to the smooth flow of Supply Chain of Essential Items, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued another set of guidelines in a late-night Order on 3rd April. Particularly for the trucking community, clarification number (iv) of the issued Order provides some clarity:
“Inter-state and intra-state movement of all trucks and other goods / carrier vehicles, with one driver and one additional person, is allowed as long as the driver is carrying a valid driver’s license. If the truck/ vehicle is travelling empty, invoice, way-bill etc. for delivery or pick up of goods may additionally be carried by the drivers. Movement of driver and one person from their place of residence to truck should also be facilitated by local authorities.”
While the above clarifications could definitely provide some calm and direction to truck owners and drivers, it is still to be seen if state and district authorities adhere to it uniformly. Concerns still remain around cooperation by local authorities to facilitate driver movement from their homes to trucks.
Speaking of daily essentials, the MHA communication again specifies the category of essential goods whose sale (including through e-Commerce), production, warehousing and transport are allowed as exceptions:
- food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk products, meat and fish, animal fodder, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, agriculture produce, drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediaries
- grocery would now also include hygiene products such as hand washes, soaps, disinfectants, body wash, shampoos, surface cleaners, detergents and tissue papers, toothpaste / oral care, sanitary pads and diapers, charger and battery cells etc.
With these clarifications coming in, WheelsEye would suggest trucks owners and drivers start talking to their local authorities and their Shippers i.e. customers for whom they move goods. Truck owners need to proactively ensure that their drivers can reach the stranded trucks, and at the same time, coordinate with their Shippers for loads of essential items. As we often hear – In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity (for the trucker) !