Chandigarh, Aug 2 (IANS) A group of truckers on Wednesday set a goods carrier on fire in Nakodar town, about 160 km from here, to protest the Punjab government’s move to ban truck unions in the state.
The protesting Nakodar Truck Union members also raised slogans against the Amarinder Singh government for its July 5 announcement on disbanding of all truck unions in Punjab.
“We have been pleading with the Congress government for the past one month to review its decision as it has affected truckers and lakhs of people associated with the trade. We will intensify our agitation if the government does not listen,” a union member said.
There are 134 truck unions in Punjab with owners of over 93,000 trucks as its members. Nearly 16 lakh people are associated with the trade.
“Of the 93,000 trucks, nearly 70,000 are financed (by banks and others). The government ban on truck unions has taken away our livelihood. We will set more trucks on fire and are ready to sacrifice our families,” he said.
Following the state cabinet’s decision last month to approve the goods carriages rules, nearly 93,000 trucks went off the road in Punjab on July 9.
The protest strike was called for a day by the All Punjab Truck Operators’ Union.
The government justified the ban, saying it was aimed at ending monopolising the business of goods transport in the state.
The Punjab Goods Carriages (Regulation and Prevention of Cartelisation) Rules, 2017, bar goods carriage operators from forming cartels or unions in the state.
“Once these rules come into effect, no operator or permit holder of goods carriages shall be allowed to form a cartel, denying freedom of choice to the consignors and consignees to engage the services of such operators or permit holders,” a Punjab government spokesperson said earlier.
“The move is aimed at destroying the mafia of goods transporters who had cartelised the business over the past several years, obstructing free and fair movement of goods transport, and also impacting industrial development of the state,” the spokesperson said.
To protect the interests of the transporters following the abolition of truck unions, it was also decided that the government should fix thed minimum and maximum freight rates for goods carriers.
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