Truckers’ strike off but normalcy may take another day

January 13th, 2009 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) A day after the truckers called off their eight-day agitation, movement of commodities started resuming on major highways Wednesday, even as supplies of fruits and vegetables continued to take a hit in some areas. Transport companies said they expected normalcy to return by Wednesday evening.”Fruits and vegetables are reaching the mandis (wholesale markets) in places like Delhi. But shortages continue. We expect the normal supplies to resume in a day or two,” said Vivek Rastogi of the Agriculture Production Marketing Committee here.

“After eight days of strike, one cannot expect normally to return overnight. We expect the situation to be much better from Wednesday,” an official in the surface transport ministry said.

The official said additional manpower had been deployed across the country to man the toll gates as large number of trucks, that were off the roads during the strike, had started to hit the highways.

According to Kapil Sawhney, the proprietor of Sawhney Transporters, most truckers were busy clearing the backlog. “It will take a couple of days more to clear the backlog. But we have started taking new bookings,” Sawhney told IANS.

Some six million trucks were off the road during the trucker’s strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations estimated that the economy was losing Rs.10 billion (Rs.1,000 crore) daily due to the strike.

The transporters had called off their strike after agreeing to the government’s proposal for a mechanism to look into their demands, including a single national permit. They also want diesel prices to be reduced, besides a 35-percent cut in prices of tyres.

Surface Transport Minister T.R. Baalu said the government will constitute a standing committee to look into the grievances of transporters and submit its report in eight weeks.

During the course of the agitation, five leaders of the union were taken into custody, and Baalu assured the office bearers that the government will push for their release at the earliest.

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