More than 20,000 families of truck owners have been pushed to the margins as Corona has brought their business to a halt.
The Covid 19 has proved to be an insult to injury when truck owners could hardly make ends meet after local industries decided to rely on rail rather than road transport for coal movement. Many truck owners’ families of Brajrajnagar, Belpahar and Bandhbahal of Jharsuguda district are under tremendous financial pressure with no help in sight.
Earlier, power plants, steel plants, aluminium and sponge iron factories were transporting coal through trucks, trawlers and multi-axle trailers. But for the last two years, local industries moved significant volume to railways bleeding the trucking business dry.
Due to the district administration's efforts and pressure from the truck owners association and the local public, the private industries had restored some of that business to truck owners. However, due to reduced production in mines in the Covid crisis, many drivers remained home for most of last year. The moratorium given by the Union Government on the EMIs gave a marginal reprieve to truck owners.
However, before the situation could revert to normal, the second wave of Covid cases has disrupted all hopes of an economic recovery for these families.
Looming uncertainty has also forced the drivers from other States to go back to their hometowns, as thousands of trucks stand on the roads.
As owners of these trucks are unable to pay their instalments on time, truck finance companies and their collection agents are knocking on the doors of these families every day. Susant Moharana, a truck owner from Khaiguda, said, “The truck owning families are struggling to provide two meals to their families.
The drivers are not willing to drive vehicles in peak corona and our trucks are gathering dust.” Tapankanta Jena, another truck owner from Belpahar's Gumadera, said “Several unemployed youths in the district bought trucks by taking loans from unorganized market.
They were hoping that they will find livelihood with the thriving industrialisation in the district. But corona has spelt doom for all such families. Today, they neither have their trucks nor have a livelihood.”