City residents may soon have a respite from the fluctuating prices of vegetables and fruits.
From this week, restrictions on lorries transporting produce to the Koyambedu market have been lifted, allowing the vehicles to ply at all hours. This, wholesale traders said, will prevent shortages of produce and keep prices stable.
The decision was taken after a meeting between traders, the police and officials of the market management committee.
Up until now, lorries were not allowed to ply between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. This meant the vehicles had to wait for long hours on the fringes of the city in Poonamallee and Red Hills, until they could enter. On an average, about 450 lorries bring produce to the market, which has shops selling fruits, vegetables and flowers.
However, officials said the lorries would not enter city limits, but ply via Poonamallee High Road and enter the market through Maduravoyal, without hindering traffic.
Traders said that availability of produce throughout the day would help bring down prices by 10 per cent. Quality could also be maintained with fresh produce, they said.
S. Srinivasan, a wholesale fruit merchant, said the market received about 100 containers of imported fruits a week. “Since the containers were not allowed into the city during the day, we had to pay halting charges per day per container. Vehicles had to wait for one or two days to unload produce from the Chennai Port. The restrictions added to the expenditure and we didn’t have a choice – we had to pass it on to consumers,” he said.
S. Chandran, a wholesale vegetable trader, said that about 5-10 per cent of the 5,000 tonnes of produce, including flowers, brought to the market, is wasted because of delays in unloading. This could now be reduced as lorries would no longer have to wait – they could come in throughout the day.