The strike, called to protest against the rise in toll taxes and charges on national highways, will, however not affect movement of essential commodities. The Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents Association (FKSLOAA) has said it will allow and permit transportation of milk, fruits, vegetables, fuel and fertilisers.
Transport Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, said the truckers have an issue with the toll policy implemented on national highways. “They have no grievances with the State government”, he added. The Transport Department has constituted a State level task force committee and a 24/7 control room at the Office of Transport Commissioner and also control rooms at district level to ensure uninterrupted movement of essential commodities. Public and truck owners can call 22352434 to lodge complaints. “If the Union Ministry of Surface Transport does not intervene and resolve the issue, we will be forced to convert it into a nation wide strike,” warned G R Shanmugappa, president of AIMTC.
Truck federations argue that South India suffers more than any other part of the country, with high toll being levied on every national highway.
AIMTC says that owing to the public-private-partnership (PPP) model followed by the Centre for constructing highways, private construction companies are charging higher toll charges that transportation companies are being forced to bear and demanded that the Central government intervene to bring some parity in the toll prices.
“In 1997 toll fares were only Rs 1.40 per kilometre on highways under jurisdiction of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). But, private developers such as NICE in Karnataka and others in neighbouring States are charging much higher prices,” said Shanmugappa.
Truckers are also demanding night lorry halt and driver resting facilities, toilets and ambulance facilities from public and private highway operators.
An estimated 25 lakh goods trucks are expected to go off the roads in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, during the strike.