Trucking freight rates across key routes already up by 20%-30%

Freight rates of trucking are being shot up as the government is preparing itself to open up factories in designated green zones from Monday. There are multiple reasons behind sudden escalation in freight rates but the major reasons are unavailability of drivers and loss of business on the key routes of trade in the country due to prevailing lockdown situation.

With entry into states and industrial routes remaining constrained and low availability of trucking fleet and commercial business, freight rates across key routes are already up by 20-30% in some cases, with many transporters even charging more, truckers, booking companies and industry associations.

According to Kultaran Singh Atwal, President, All-India Motor Transport Corporation (AIMTC), “A truck coming from Pune to Delhi, carrying grapes, is now costing Rs 90,000 against the Rs 70,000 earlier as we are not getting any return cargo. Also, if a vehicle breaks down, the repair is not easily available. Sometimes it takes days to get them fixed.”    

Red zones are interspersed across the green/safe industrial corridors, making the movement of goods through road often challenging. Often trucks are stranded due to multiple checking points, lack of labour, and the need for a plethora of clearance permits.

In the present situation, trucks are not getting cargo in their return journey whereas the logistics companies book cargo to and fro to save cost.

“For example, a 16-tonner carrying cargo such as foodgrains, medicines or pesticides and seeds from Delhi to Kolkata does not get any business when it is returning to the national capital. In such cases, we make up only by increasing the rates which have now gone up from around Rs 60,000 that was charged previously to as much as Rs 95,000 now.”

Many drivers are not ready to join back for work, and are also facing pressure from their families to stay at home. The families are not letting them travel. Also, with various social-sector relief measures announced by the central and state governments, many families are getting adequate food and aid just by being home. So, they are not in any hurry to return for work.”

Truckers claim that even the vehicles that are carrying essentials such as medicines, food stock and other relief material, are getting stuck at many places due to various restrictions.