The Hindu Businessline carries a somewhat muddled piece on overloaded trucks. Per the Supreme court order, overloading by trucks by illegal. It is also a danger to both the truck and others on Indias highways, themselves not the safest place on earth, even without overloaded trucks. The piece has the usual cribs from "affected people" who are really, poor little rich transporters.
The Supreme Court order on restricting truck overloading is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the domestic truck and shipping industries. The restriction will increase cost of road transportation by 25-30 per cent and, in turn, shipping freight cost for consignees, say industry sources.
How that will happen, I am not sure. It is made to appear as if the poor transporters are taking the risk of overloading to save poor traders some money. Having seen overloaded trucks on almost any highway in India, it is partly greed on the part of the operator, partly knowing that "overloading chalta hai" and partly collusion with other stakeholders including the trader/industry, police, RTO that the whole process happens.
The court's judgement will have serious consequences for the entire trade. As transporters, the association members will be able to carry only one 20 ft loaded container on a 40ft trailer and this, obviously, means that the rates of the transportation will be the same as 40ft loaded containers. It is imperative that these guidelines are strictly adhered to, because in the event of the vehicle being caught with an overloaded container, the vehicle along with the container will be held by the authorities to reduce the weight. The penalties by the transport authorities will be recovered from the trade, the association said.
Why should it be caught if it is within the weight limit? And why should it not be under the weight limit? The piece ends on a somewhat sane note.
An impact analysis on the Supreme Court's order by Crisil Research and Information Services Ltd (CRIS INFAC), provider of business analysis and options, says that freight rates would reduce in the medium term from the current high levels and a one-time additional demand would benefit the commercial vehicles industry within the next six-eight months.
This additional demand will be in the range of 15,000-28,000 medium and heavy commercial vehicles.
India is in the midst of building national highways under the National Highway Development Programme entailing an investment of Rs 1,60,000 crore in the next five-seven years. The Golden Quadrilateral, and the East-West and North-South corridors are also under construction.
These highways, which are being built with huge investments, are expected to last for 10-12 years.
However, even a 10 per cent overloading of goods carriage in excess of the prescribed weight can reduce the life of roads and highways by 35 per cent, the report said.I think in the long run it augurs well for Indias commercial vehicle industry which is a few decades behind the world. Overloading is not a cause we must rally by, in the interest of road safety.