Lack of infrastructure, poor roads, excess vehicle capacity and fluctuating fuel prices are some of the major issues hampering the transport sector, not only in Assam but the entire North-East, said panellists at a discussion as part of the Transporters Meet organised by BusinessLine, in association with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and Mahindra Small Commercial Vehicles, in the riverine port city of Guwahati, on Friday.
The busy Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) on the Brahmaputra makes the city one of the key logistics hubs in the region, with the truck industry providing the critical last-mile connectivity, they observed. The event was a first-of-its-kind initiative for the transport sector in the North-East, the panellists noted.
Transport is a vital driver of the economy but is not considered a major industry, said Pulak Goswami, President, North-East LPG (Bulk) Tank Truck Owners Association. “We are given step-motherly treatment. The public is not sympathetic to us and the government is not supporting us,” he said. “There is zero work for us. If this situation continues, everybody will come to the road.”
Excess vehicle capacity is affecting the transport industry, he further said. Each vehicle costs around ₹35 lakh. If an owner wants to sell the vehicle, he gets a rock-bottom price. Companies should fix a time period to use a vehicle, he added.
Pradip Das, Secretary General, All Assam Motor Transport Association, said Assam is the most neglected part of India. Road conditions are bad and highway construction is progressing at a slow pace, he said, adding: “We have made many representations to the government on this issue, but there is no positive response.”
Anjit Bora, Vice-President (North-East), Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India, said four-lane highways should be completed on time and roadside amenities for passengers and drivers need to be provided.