No calling off strike till Kerala meets demands: truckers

Thursday, Apr 2, 2015,19:23 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Chennai | Transportation of goods to Kerala was severely affected today as the indefinite strike by truckers, demanding quick clearance of vehicles at Walayar check post in the neighbouring state, entered the second day,
The transporters made it clear to the Kerala government that the trucks will not ply till such time their demands are met. The trucks carry a variety of consignments ranging from vegetables, textile and electronics across Walayar, the gateway to Kerala, everyday. Our demands must be met and till such time our strike will continue, National Managing Committee member of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), N P Velu, said.
Increasing counters at the Walayar check post at Kerala to ten from three, installing scanning machines, a green channel for goods like steel and cement, parking lot, basic amenities like drinking water and toilets are the major demands. Presently, sales tax authorities of Kerala take a minimum of ten hours to a maximum of fifteen hours to clear a single truck at Walayar, he claimed.
It happens nowhere else. Across 1,268 border check posts in the country, the average clearance time is about an hour, he added.
Stating that about 3,000 vehicles on an average should cross Walayar point, he however said this often does not happen as vehicles gets delayed at check posts.
We face huge losses stretching to several crores of rupees a day and it is the smaller trucks that get cleared at relatively lesser time, Velu added. Kerala authorities still use age-old system to check consignments by piercing the bags with needle, he said, adding we demand installation of scanners which will ensure quick clearance of vehicles.
The strike is on since yesterday. We are coordinating with major consignors to cooperate and we are halting movement of every truck to ensure that the protest is effective, Velu said. Another senior office bearer of AIMTC, G R Shanmugappa, cautioned that the truck movements to Kerala will be severely hit if the state government does not heed to the demands.
As a result, serpentine queues of trucks were witnessed at the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border crossing at Walayar.
Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani yesterday urged the striking truckers to call off the agitation, saying steps had already taken to improve facilities at the check-post. He said it has been decided to open 14 ‘In and Out’ counters and steps have been taken to acquire 30 acres of land for providing basic facilities.
The land acquisition was getting delayed due to a stay order by court and government was in the process of getting it vacated, Mani had said.