• End of road likely for private two-wheelers in delivery business

    E-commerce companies and quick-service restaurants may soon have to put the brakes on last-mile deliveries through private two-wheelers with the government working on rules to regulate their use for commercial purposes.

    Currently, most e-tailers and restaurants outsource deliveries to two-wheeler riders as it both speeds up the process and is cost-effective. In many cases, the delivery person owns the bike and gets paid a commission upon completion of the job. This is all set to change with the government planning a new categorisation called ‘two wheeler goods vehicles’. These will be fitted with a box for carrying goods, according to a draft notification issued by the Union road transport ministry.

    “Any motor vehicle used for commercial purposes should be treated as such regardless of the number of wheels. We are witnessing rampant misuse of the law by several firms that use private two-wheelers for commercial purposes. We are writing to the government as we need rules,” said SP Singh, senior fellow and co-coordinator of Indian Foundation for Transport Research and Training, an independent body.

    While there are a few rules for private vehicles, if classified as commercial, a different set of rules would kick in. Some of these include differentiated insurance tariffs, road taxes, mandatory periodical fitness certificates, driver badges, police verification. All this will push up cost of deliveries. TOI tried to contact firms like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, and Swiggy but emails and calls went unanswered.

    The Union road transport ministry issued the draft rules on two-wheeler goods vehicles last November but the final notification is yet to come. “We are processing the suggestions and objections that we have received to the draft notification. The final notification will be out soon,” said a transport ministry official.

    The proposed norm specifies that the two-wheeler go- ods vehicles will have to be 550mm long and 510mm wide, while each box could carry a maximum weight of 30kg. This will prevent overloading, a common problem.

    Insurers too are waiting for regulations. “We insure two-wheelers knowing fully well that they are used for pizza delivery. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority does not have any separate classification for commercial two wheelers,” an insurer said.

    Once the rules get notified, it will be left to the states to implement them. For instance, states like Karnataka oppose two-wheeler taxis while Haryana and Goa have allowed them. 

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