Driving on the highways for an ordinary man is a delight today, as the roads rival some of the best in the world. But for truck drivers, the lack of basic infrastructural facilities such as restrooms and resting places makes highway driving a “painful” experience, particularly when one needs to attend to the call of nature.

India has the second largest road network in the world with an area of ​​more than 62 km consisting of national highways, highways, state highways, major local roads, other provincial roads, and village roads. There are nearly 10 million trucks in the country. In 2012, the center envisioned a program that for every 50 kilometers there will be a place of rest for truck drivers. However, this is still on paper, truck drivers claim.

Truck driver problems

Truck driver Manekam from Chennai combats the lack of basic facilities on the highways. The truck cannot be parked on the highways and respond to the urgent call of nature. It can be dangerous and can lead to accidents. “We need more places to rest. Nobody thinks of us and looks from our point of view. We mostly rely on the roadside duba which has poor facilities.”

In agreement with Manekam, Vipul Bansal, Secretary of the Bombay Cargo Transport Association says there is no facility on most of the highways despite huge amounts of money being spent on road construction. Gasoline beds are commercial establishments and their space is limited. Parking facilities should be available, so that drivers can rest, if they are expected to drive for eight hours. Otherwise, they would only worry about the safety of their cargo or truck, he says.

SP Mohan, a truck owner based in Namakkal, says that for every 50 kilometres, there should be a resting place with basic facilities for drivers. Mostly there are no toilets in the truck. He adds that the facilities available are not well maintained.

In a letter to Nitin Gadkari, union minister for road transport and highways, the All India Transport Workers’ Welfare Association said that during times of pandemic, when trucks were stranded and everything was shut down, basic utilities infrastructure on highways was very poor.

In many truck parking areas, there was no provision of drinking water and the association had to arrange for bottles of water to be sent to stranded drivers who were making SOS calls to the association’s helpline.

“Problems like this make it really difficult for our sector to attract new drivers and thus the ratio of drivers to trucks decreases,” said Mahendra Arya, chairman of the association.

need to work

“We urge that these side facilities be thoroughly audited, and deficiencies addressed by contractors. They will always be in memory to create such a network of world-class highways. However, please do not let our country fall short of meeting international standards when it comes to The welfare of drivers on the entire network.

“The lack of basic amenities for highway truck drivers is a serious problem and has been discussed for the past two decades,” said SB Singh, Senior Fellow and Coordinator, Indian Foundation for Transport Research and Training (IFTRT).

If the government collects tolls, road tax and road taxes, the government is obligated to provide highway amenities to hapless truck drivers who work 24/7.

While the government spends 30 per cent of the revenue collected from road transport and its welfare, the transport companies hardly spend 2-3 per cent of the revenue on the welfare of truck and bus drivers. He said truck drivers should also be involved in providing basic facilities.

A senior National Highways official disagrees with the truck drivers’ claims. All large petrol beds have such facilities, and drivers can use them. He adds that there are also places to rest created on the highways.

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