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Karnataka: First curbs, now rising fuel prices dent transport sector | Bengaluru News

Karnataka: First curbs, now rising fuel prices dent transport sector | Bengaluru News, the vie

BENGALURU: With the price of motor fuels surging, the transport industry has its back to the wall. Thousands of cab owners have surrendered their permits and hundreds of private bus operators have cut operations by almost half since it is no longer economically viable to run a full fleet.
The price of petrol has risen by Rs 4 per litre and diesel by Rs 3.5 in the past 10 days in the state. Since the price of crude oil in the international market is rising, there are no signs of domestic prices cooling anytime soon and the transport industry is feeling the heat.
The gains and the optimism over the past month after tourist destinations reopened after the Covid-induced lockdown and restrictions were lifted, have been wiped out.
Karnataka Federation of Lorry Owners Associations says over one lakh trucks are off roads due to rising fuel prices.
“The cost of running a truck has touched Rs 28 per km now from Rs 19-20 per km last year. If this continues, another one lakh trucks will go off the road in the next few months,” said GR Shanmukappa, federation president.
Owners of over 15,000 cabs and private buses have surrendered permits over the past year.
Passenger buses must pay road tax every quarter, which runs into several thousands of rupees. Sources say major players like SRS and VRL Travels have taken 20-25% of their fleets off the roads.
Over two lakh cabs and other passenger vehicles have also disappeared from roads.
There has also been a huge dip in registration of new commercial vehicles.
“Prior to the pandemic, we used to register around 10,000 commercial vehicles including cabs, taxis, buses and trucks every month. Now the number is just 200-300 vehicles,” said L Hemanth Kumar, additional transport commissioner (administration).
Those who bought vehicles have been hit by a double whammy — business being dull and rising fuel prices.
“I took out a loan and bought a new car six months before the pandemic hit,” said Madhusudhan, a cab driver from Hubballi. “I paid EMIs for a year hoping the situation will improve. But the increase in diesel prices has hurt. I sold the vehicle and now I am jobless.”
Criticising the state government and the Centre for not helping, Shanmukappa said they are planning a nationwide truckers strike.
“What is the need for the state to impose such a hefty tax on fuel when people are suffering financially due to Covid-19? We plan to issue a 21-day notice to the government. We will strike if the government doesn’t act,” he said.

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