The skyrocketing price of the fuel cost is playing spoil-sport to the shipping and related industry in India as a whole since all the prices connected to petrol and diesel and related products are on the rise. Things are not different here in the Southern part of India, specifically Cochin which is a major Port City of India.
The Dry/Frozen sea freight container Trailer movers and lorry operators are the most effected lot amongst all, since the frequent hike in the fuel prices makes it very difficult to run the Trailers and trucks effectively, many of the operators have withdrawn from this operation as it does not make any logical sense in carrying on a business with not making profits and sometimes at a loss.
There are proximity 2500 Trailer operators who ply the vehicles inside the State and Inter- state and about 70% of such Trailer operators have backed out this field already., which have left 10,000 drivers, cleaners and others who are directly and indirectly connected with this Trailer transportation business at dire-strait and poverty. Ironically, in most cases the transportation cost which Transporter gets do not even match the tariff rates which they used get when the fuel was Rs 60 and 70 per litre, when the current fuel price is Rs 98 per litre. The Secretary of Cochin Container Operators Association recently made a statement that the Lorry operations of the Valerpadam container transportation operations will come to a grinding halt if this condition continues in the trade.
There are two types of Trailers to carry 20′ and 40′ Sea freight containers. There are Trailer owners who owns 10 and more Trailer trucks and there some who just have 1 and 2 Trailers. The fuel cost have hit these operators so badly that in most cases they take over as the Driver of their Trucks to save money that had to be paid for a Driver, in case, they are employed by him. Many of the workers considered Trailer transportation as the their bread winner have left this field and started working in other sectors. Sadly, the deduction in the Road tax proclaimed by the State government was not given to the Trailers and lorry operators.
During the Lockdown in 2020 there were many import shipments of Rice,wheat and other grains and cements but this year during the same period of May and June there were no import shipment as the Gujarat, the state from where these cargo originate could not effect these shipment for lack of the immigrant workers who left Gujarat for their native place.
There is no parity with the hike the fuel prices and the existing traffic rates applied. If in case, a Trailer or lorry operator earns a Rs.10,000 as transportation charges, more than 50 % goes towards fuel cost and after leaving provision for road tax, insurance and other recurring yearly cost, the Owners are left with a meagre balance of Rs.500.00.
According to the Vice president Mr. Ratish of Island Container Carrier’s Welfare Association the State Government should intervene in the current pathetic situation of the sector and save it from a total collapse.