Transport industry is limping after demonetisation

Kolkata, Dec 15 (IANS) Attacking the central government over demonetisation, goods transport associations on Thursday declared in unison that the transport industry has suffered a massive setback since the note ban and claimed government’s push towards a cashless economy needs serious retrospection.

The transporters stated their support for the government’s initiative in curbing the black money but said the industry was taken aback by the abruptness of the decision and is stumbling ever since.

“The government should understand every cash driven industry is not equivalent to black money. There is no question of black money in the road transport industry as almost everything related to transportation is paid well in advance,” said Calcutta Goods Transport Association’s General Secretary Sunil Agarwal said at an event here.

He said that 40 percent of the freight amount in India is handled in cash.

“Several transportation aspects like toll taxes, minor repair of vehicles, loading and unloading expenditure, food expenditure of drivers etc have been paid in cash. The government should have given us time to convert to cashless system,” he added.

The Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators Association (FWBTOA) said more than 40 percent of the total goods trucks in the state have stopped plying since the note ban and warned about a complete break-down in the road transportation system if cash flow is not improved.

“If the vehicle owners were in ICU earlier, the demonitisation has pushed them to a state of coma. Out of 3.70 lakh trucks in the state, 40 percent has already stopped plying. The rest will follow shortly if the situation stays like this,” said FWBTOA’s President Subhash Chandra Bose

He appealed to the government and Reserve Bank of India to increase withdrawal limit to Rs 50,000 for a truck for inter-state transportation.

“Unlike other industries, the transport industry pays all the taxes well in advance. The road tax, toll tax, fuel tax are all paid, before a goods vehicle hits the road but the industry is not getting any relaxations in terms of cash withdrawals from the government,” he complained.

Describing the goods transport industry as the ‘blood line of the nation’, Prabhat K Mittal, the president of CGTA, suggested the government should eradicate the instances of corruption and use improved infrastructure to make the industry cashless.

“Government should take practical decisions like abolishing toll tax at least for a month as toll cards at many plazas are not working. We are also proposed to pay toll tax in advance for vehicles with national permit,” he added.