Truckers’ stir cripples services in Karnataka

February 23rd, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by admin  

Bangalore, Feb 23 (IANS) Movement of goods, barring that of essential commodities, has come to a virtual halt across Karnataka Saturday in the wake of an indefinite agitation launched by truck operators against an order to install speed governors in heavy commercial vehicles. About 700,000 vehicles, including trucks, light commercial vehicles, maxi cabs, vans and taxis kept off roads in support of the agitation from early hours of the day, paralysing commuting and transport services in the state.

Similarly, thousands of transport vehicles, including trucks from neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra are stranded across the border with goods.

Employees of the booming software and IT-enabled services, including BPO (business process outsourcing) and call centres, were the worst hit in the absence of taxi service after Friday night.

“We have made alternative arrangements to pick and drop hundreds of our employees working in late night shifts. We are hiring state-run buses and pooling staff cars to ferry as many employees for maintaining essential services and providing 24×7 services to global clients,” a top IT company official told IANS.

Rejecting the state government’s appeal to withdraw the agitation, federation of Karnataka state lorry owners and agents association has threatened to intensify the stir till the notification making speed governors mandatory for old and new transport vehicles was revoked.

The state transport department issued the notification on the directive of the Karnataka High Court Feb 12, making speed governors compulsory for all transport vehicles to prevent rash driving and to control speed.

“The truckers’ stand-off continues despite efforts to resolve the deadlock. We have advised the association to approach the Supreme Court for relief from the high court order or seek more time to comply,” said D. Thangaraj, principal secretary transport, said.

“The government is bound by the court order to implement its directive, which has given time till June 30 for operators to fit their vehicles with speed governors. New vehicles are not registered without the speed-controlling device,” he said.

Truckers’ Association president G.R. Shanmugappa said the state government should go in for appeal against the court order and keep the notification in abeyance till the apex court gave its ruling on the contentious issue.

“It is practically impossible for us to meet the June 30 deadline, as even the three authorised manufacturers will not be able to deliver 700,000 speed governors over the next four months due to capacity constraints,” he said.

“More over, the court order is applicable to transport vehicles registered in Karnataka and not to thousands of similar vehicles belonging to other states. The directive is not only discriminative, but imposes heavy burden on us to fit a costly device priced around Rs.16,000-18,000 each,” Shanmugappa told reporters.

Meanwhile, the state police have made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order and prevent obstruction of transport vehicles exempted from the stir for carrying essential goods such as milk, vegetables, medicines and emergency services like ambulances and schools buses.

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