Owners to keep lorries off the road from November 21
A conciliation meeting organised by the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) with the various stakeholders on Monday failed to yield the desired result as the trailer-lorry drivers and cleaners have decided to take a call on their flash strike only on Tuesday.
The Trailer-Lorry Drivers and Cleaners of Anna Labour Union struck work since Saturday, demanding that the authorities concerned repair the road from the MFL to Ponneri, about eight km, on priority basis as it is not motorable. Citing the same reason, the Trailers Lorry Owners Association has decided to stay off the road from November 21.
As there was no movement of container-laden vehicles since Saturday, export and import activities at the ChPT came to a standstill. However, the impact is likely to be felt in the coming days. To find a lasting solution, ChPT chairman Atulya Misra, along with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Project Manager and DP World Chennai officials, convened a meeting that was attended by over 30 members representing the lorry owners, drivers and cleaners.
At the meeting that lasted nearly two hours, Mr. Misra said that they needed two months to repair the badly affected road and two years for completion of four-lane Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP). Besides, it was also decided to carry out spot inspection on Tuesday.
Talking to The Hindu, Chennai Port Trust Trailer Lorry Drivers and Cleaners Anna Labour Union Secretary K. Asai Thambi said: “Though we have been raising our voice for the past few years, nothing much was done on the Tiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti (TPP) Road. We are fed up with hearing such kind of assurances and have decided to accompany the inspection squad. We will take a call about our stir on Tuesday.”
Plea to ChPT
Trailer Owners Association Secretary S.R. Raja said that they have asked the ChPT officials to carry out the patch work before November 21 so that it can be made motorable, otherwise, they will go ahead with their proposed strike from November 22 onwards.
“When the roads can be repaired within 24 hours for VIP movement, why can't they do it for us within a week as it earns sizeable foreign exchange for the country?” asked a port-user.
Even during the last week joint review meeting held with the Union Food Secretary at the Secretariat, oil company representatives said that lorry drivers were not willing to do more than one trip and it also added to the delay in supplying adequate number of refill cylinders to the consumers.
“The road is in a very bad shape. I travel by train to a certain point to go to my office,” said a top official of Ennore Port.
Shipping Secretary, K. Mohandas said that unfortunately everyone found fault with Chennai Port, even for things that were beyond their control. The tenders for EMRIP would be floated by the month-end and it was being executed by the NHAI.
“More than 1,000 container lorries are stranded outside the Port premises. It might take more than a week to clear the backlog and we have to pay demurrage and congestion charges for no fault of ours,” said an industry representative.
According to R. Sugumar, president of the Confederation of Surface Transport, Tamil Nadu, the officials who addressed the meeting said the road repair work would be completed by January. This has to be done as soon as possible as the roads serve as significant connectivity to Chennai Port and Ennore Port.
(With inputs from K. Lakshmi)