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Fragmentation & Divide Puts Industry on Downslide

The road transport industry – sorry – the so called road transport industry is divided into the following segments: transporters, truckers, brokers, truck operators, trailer operators, tanker operators, ODC operators, LCV operators, etc. The classification doesn’t end here. Then there is further classification based on caste – and this is official classification. And of course you have the small transporters, the medium size operators, the large operators and the gigantic operators. Amidst all this classification, the one entity that has suffered most is the ‘road transport industry’. Every debate concerning the industry gets diluted amidst the various classifications. When was the last time the industry thought of something like an industry and not as a section of the industry!

The biggest beneficiaries of these classifications are the government, various departments and ofcourse the consignors. They keep fuelling this classification as it ensures that their interests are kept alive and the sufferer ofcourse is the road transport industry. Even after so many years in existence, the road transport industry has to go through troubled times. In fact the road transport industry goes through 2 seasons – rough weather and very rough weather. Currently the industry is going through very rough weather. It is believed that many players in the industry are on the verge of exiting from this business. Competition has reached a level where emotions and ego play a larger role than economics. There are companies who are in a race to clock a high turnover and quote freight that is quite ridiculous. At the same time, the truckers are carrying goods for the transporters at even lower rates because they have to pay their monthly installment. No prizes for guessing who benefitted in this bargain!

We have been asking associations to take a stand and decide what’s good for the industry. But they have other important issues we believe, which are more pertinent to a certain segment of players in the industry. We strongly believe that if associations work sincerely and with a focus, they can change the fortunes of the industry. But the unfortunate thing is that there is no focus whatsoever. The associations themselves don’t know what they want. We have so many associations across the country. Has any association ever come up with a white paper on what the future of the industry should be like or how ideally they would like to have it? There is no intent to take the industry to the next level. People are merely interested in occupying prestigious posts and take up issues that are less challenging and give them space in the media. Whether it benefits the industry or not is not even considered.

 

We have a very simple question to ask, if anyone has an answer - Why hasn’t any association talked about freight rates, which is the root cause of all problems related to the industry? If transporters are paid well by the consignors, the former will pay his staff and drivers well – which means there will be an incentive for staff to join the industry. If transporters charge the consignors adequately, they will be in a position to pay better freight to the trucks that they source from the market. This will also ensure that the truck operators and their drivers remain in good financial health. If the transporters and truckers charge adequate freight, the industry will not have to fight with the government on issues such as toll and diesel price hike.

The other big drawback of the industry is the sluggishness to adapt new technology and systems. Here again associations have done very little to educate their members on the use of technology. The associations have their meetings and AGMs which are more of a formality. What is being done to connect with the common member and make him feel part of the association? We have been saying that members need to be more proactive towards the association, but unfortunately the working of some associations is actually taking the members away from the association.

According to market reports, the slowdown in the economy would continue for atleast another 6 months, which means the problems are only going to worsen in the months to come. If the associations really care about their members, this is the time to step forward and take charge of things rather than allow time to take its own course. The industry needs to get more professional, organized and systematic in its approach and working. We have seen associations work in the most systematic manner during elections. There is suddenly a spring in the feet of everyone and the candidates don’t miss an opportunity to meet the voters. We are certainly not politicians who meet members for votes and then forget about them. The fortunes of this industry are bright, but we may lose a lot in the future if we don’t get our act together. We have to start thinking like an INDUSTRY and approach the government and other industries / officials as an INDUSTRY and not as a transporter or trucker or supplier.

Author by: Girish A Mirchandani : Editor - Transtopics

Phone No: 9821144265

Visit us on www.transtopics.in

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