Nearly 3,000 lorries from across the country, carrying produces and products ranging from rice, chicken and eggs to motor cars, will stop plying to Kerala from Saturday midnight in protest against what the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) claimed was the Kerala government’s failure to solve the problem of severe congestion at the Walayar checkpost on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Coming as it is in the run-up to the Onam festival and shopping season, the strike is likely to affect the supplies of vegetables, rice and other essential items for which the State depends on Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Nearly a crore of eggs and about four lakh tonnes of vegetables and fruits as well as items of everyday use arrive in the Kerala markets from these States and disruption of lorry transport will prepare the ground for a price spiral, said city-based dealer in vegetables N.H. Shameed on Saturday.

President of the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry K.N. Marzook has appealed to the State government to intervene immediately to solve the problem in view of the adverse impact of the strike on the State’s economy.

Reports from Namakkal, where the vast majority of Tamil Nadu-based lorries are based, said that the AIMTC was firm on its stand, taken at a meeting of the transporters’ association on June 2.

The lorry operators have said that they wanted a system under which lorries are cleared at the busy checkpost within 15 minutes of their arrival.

They alleged that congestions at Walayar had seen lorries idling at the checkpost sometimes for 24 hours, costing time and money and upsetting delivery schedules.

K. Nallathambi, president of the Tamil Nadu State Lorry Owners’ Federation, said over the phone on Saturday that the strike was on and that the government of Kerala had so far not got in touch with the lorry operators.

He said that lorry movements into Kerala via the other checkposts would also be affected by the strike. The other major checkposts manned by the commercial taxes department are at Muthanga (Wayanad), Vazhikkadavu (Malappuram) and Amaravila (Thiruvananthapuram).

An official of the commercial taxes department discounted allegations by the lorry operators and claimed that the situation at the Walayar checkpost was sometimes compounded by goods carriers not completing procedures that needed to be completed before they arrived at the checkpost.

Nearly 3,000 lorries pass through the Walayar checkpost into Kerala during a 24-hour period and most of the lorries, which have completed the formalities, pass the check point within 10 to 15 minutes of their arrival, claimed the official.

Limited hands at the checkpost, the atrocious road conditions and the heavy rains have added to the problem, the official said, pointing out that 10 to 12 counters operate at the checkpost.

The process is quicker now than before because several formalities are completed online though on many occasions, the lorries arrive without completing these, including online payment of advance tax on some goods.

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