Rajeev Gupta, owner of a renowned transport company – Caravan Roadways Ltd., shares his opinions on the highs and lows of the transport sector.
Q- What are the major challenges in the logistics sector?
A- There are numerous challenges in logistics sector; it is a really long list. Toll tax is one of the major issues. The lack of transparency in toll tax policy prohibits the smooth movement of transport. This is a major issue and transporters are very much troubled because of this.
Q- Transporters have been asking for National One time toll for a long time, but now private vehicles are getting that. What’s your take on it?
A- We have been asking that, and if that happens for commercial vehicles it will be really beneficial for us. Toll tax is not a very transparent area and every person has a different solution for this. Here, according to the prevailing system, the builder collects the toll himself. The builder should only build and maintain the roads, and toll collection should be with government only. Government should pay a fixed contractual payment to the builder and collect the toll themselves. At present the builders don’t have a clear figure of the tolls received, as they are not obligated to reveal the earnings from the toll. As a result, builders show underpayment and say that they are facing losses. At present, the builders themselves are the collection agents, and this should be stopped. There is no set way to check the authenticity of toll figures, and this is nowhere to be seen across the world. In foreign countries, they always have a different toll collection agency, so why not in India? If they end this system of direct toll collection it will result in a more transparent system.
Q- What are your expectations from GST?
A- We have high hopes from GST. We hope that it will bring the concept of One country one tax like the One country one permit. We expect one bill for all states, if it happens we could transport goods anywhere under one bill without any sales tax border, or state level documentations like the U.P form. Like Excise and Custom, GST should also be done on the initial level. It will eradicate the tax black-marketing. Either you pay the full tax for once, or you don’t. There won’t be any scope for bribes, black-marketing, under/over paying.
Q- There is visible shortage of drivers in the sector. People have been talking about it from a long time, but what should be done to deal with this issue?
A- We cannot do anything in this, government have to take steps for this. We can only tell the reason behind the shortage, which can solve the problem. The reason behind the shortage is that truck driving is considered a very low level job nowadays; people are shifting away from such jobs. Nobody wants to become a truck driver. People want more respectful jobs. How to uplift the job profile is the main thing. The harassment should stop, the comfort level of the drivers should be on priority. There should be proper washrooms, restaurants, and other facilities for drivers. The population has not decreased, the number of drivers have. If they get better facilities, and they are paid well, then the scenario will change. Meanwhile companies are working on individual levels too. We are giving them better pay, Provident funds, medical insurances, life insurances. These facilities are not mandatory when the drivers are on contracts, and a whopping 95 percent of drivers work on a contractual basis. Everyone needs some kind of motivation to work, we have to find that. There should be training centers for truck drivers.
Everyone needs some kind of motivation to work, we have to find that. There should be training centers for truck drivers.
Q- Can manufacturers play any role to increase the interest of drivers?
A- Yes they can. Manufacturers like Bharat Benz build trucks that are very comfortable for the drivers. Drivers like to drive those trucks. If companies make trucks with drivers comfort in mind, it will definitely attract more drivers.
Q- What do you think about the proposed NGT ban?
A- This ban will generate mixed emotions, and mixed reactions. It will increase unemployment by a sure, not by a huge margin but unemployment will increase. But we have to live in this environment only, so in my individual opinion, the ban is good. But this is again, my individual opinion. There should be a systematic way to wave off the vehicles. They are making a thumb-rule which is not good. They should discontinue trucks step by step, taking things slowly. They should work in phases; they should ban the 12 year old trucks first, then the 11 year, then the 10 year old and so on. They have given a sudden blow to the transporters, which is not good.
Q- You have fleet strength of 350 trucks, how will the ban impact you?
A- Personally, we won’t be affected at all. Our vehicles are new. The ban will affect operators who deal in local areas. We deal nationwide and we have to travel long distances, we cannot rely on vehicles older than 10 years. We can use a vehicle for maximum 8 years, after that the vehicle is not good enough for us.
Q- Nowadays numerous e-commerce companies are entering the markets, what is your take on that?
A- It will not impact the traditional logistics. It will affect HUB and SPOKE models. GST and E-commerce will bring a dual effect for this.
Â It will affect HUB and SPOKE models. GST and E-commerce will bring a dual effect for this.
Q- There are many young IT people who have started online truck bookings. How will it impact transporters?
A- I doubt they will grab any market share from normal transporters. It will impact packers and movers or transportation on a local level. The mainstream transportation will not be affected. Major transportation chunk will not be affected. This one-to-one working is very important. We have been listening about these sites from a long time, these sites come and go. Adapting our working is very difficult.
Q- Delhi government recently expressed their views on the entry tax. What do you think about it?
A- We don’t have the right infrastructure to demand Entry Tax. They should work on betterment of infrastructure in Delhi. The KMP highway is under construction from 7 years, they are planning to make another ring road. They should improve the infrastructure and then people will be happy to pay entry tax. They are trying to discourage commercial traffic in Delhi; they want truckers to avoid entering Delhi. Even working on KMP highway will not completely divert the traffic away from Delhi, it will just divert transporters who travel via Delhi. People who deal in Delhi will have to come no matter what.
Q- Condition of transport hubs, like Sanjay Gandhi transport nagar, is getting worse day-by-day. What is being done to improve the condition?
A- The issues are not just with Sanjay Gandhi transport hub, the issue is same with every transport area. The reason behind that is we need super strong roads. Here the vehicles are generally loaded trucks, and they stop start very frequently. Secondly, lubricants and diesel from workshops leak on the roads here. They work like acid on the roads. We need very high quality roads. We all know about the quality of M.C.D roads, they are very bad. We need to improve the quality of these roads drastically. Overall, the sector didn’t change as much as we expected. There have been changes, we cannot deny it. But the changes are few, and the change rate is very slow.
There have been changes, we cannot deny it. But the changes are few, and the change rate is very slow.