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Truckers set to go off road

Supplies of commodities are likely to suffer serious dislocation from Monday following an indefinite strike called by truckers of the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators’ Associations. A similar country-wide agitation has been announced by the All India Motor Transport Congress and All India Confederation of Goods Vehicles Owners’ Association.

In Bengal, 185 transport organisations, including the All District Truck Operators’ and Owners’ Associations and the West Bengal Tankers’ Association will join the strike.

As a result, about 10,000 trucks, trailers, tankers, mini-rucks and commercial goods vehicles, which ply throughout the state daily, will be off the road. Transport operators said the strike will hit supply of essentials to the markets in Calcutta and its adjoining areas. “If the strike continues, it is possible that prices of commodities may shoot up,” an operator said.

Truck Owners’ Association of Bengal executive committee member Shyamal Dasgupta said truckers had been fighting for their demands for several years.

“We have been urging the government to bring stability in the prices of fuel and to reconsider the proposal to scrap trucks more than 15 years old, as 85 per cent truck owners possess only one truck,” Dasgupta said. He added that if the old vehicles are to be scrapped, there should be a national policy on replacing the old vehicles with a concession in excise duty, sales tax and interest-free loans.

Dasgupta said goods transporters in Posta will join the strike from April 16. “They do not wish to harass the public, as April 15 is Bengali new year’s day,” he added. An emergency meeting has been convened on Monday to review the situation.

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