Toll tax on highways is a cancer and needs to be removed, one major truckers’ body demanded on Wednesday, as it claimed that truckers are ready to pay one time annual toll amount rather than paying it each time.
Though All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is pushing this demand for the past few years, this time they revived it as government struggles to resume toll collection from Friday night. The truckers’ body also said that one of the ministers of state they recently met had agreed that “the disease of toll has to be eradicated”.
However, the government has maintained that there is no question of scrapping toll on highways since it needs funds to expand the existing highways and build new ones. It also argues that users have to pay for better service, something that many of the commuters don’t agree as the service is often not up to the mark.
During an interaction with officials from highways ministry and NHAI on Wednesday, representatives of AIMTC said that resumption of toll collection may not work even for 2-3 days and many of the trucks would stop operating. “Government must find alternate ways to get the toll amount rather than making everyone stop at toll plazas. We want to pay annual fee and operate throughout the year without any hurdle,” one of them said.
Truck operators claimed that since government announced demonetisation, corruption on roads and highways has increased. If earlier enforcement officials negotiated at Rs 200 or Rs 300, now it’s not less than Rs 500 and in several cases taking new Rs 2,000 notes has become a trend. “What can you do when you have to run a business? Many a times even drivers short change owners since all these transactions are not in record,” said a truck operator.
The truckers’ body has demanded that government should allow the operators to withdraw Rs 15,000 from their accounts per truck per trip.
Meanwhile, the ministry has asked truckers to use RFID tags and give debit cards to their drivers so that more transaction can happen through electronic mode. “But they told us that they are getting one lakh fresh tags. Will that be enough when we have crores of vehicles?” asked a trucker.
Government is considering if it can come out with some secured pre-paid coupons that can be issued to truckers which they can deposit to pass through toll plazas quickly. Quincy Wilson Authentic Jersey