The Trailer Owners Association (TOA) has agreed to call off the five-day old strike, following an assurance from Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) officials and the traffic police that Gate 2A would be reopened for the exit of containers from Sunday night onwards.
TOA struck work since Friday following an altercation between a port employee and trailer driver. Initially, they sought an apology from him and, later, demanded the opening of Gate 2A and protection for drivers.
Following the strike about 740 vehicles carrying 1,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of containers are stranded from Zero Gate to the Ernavoor bridge. Currently, the number of import boxes inside the port stands at 17,000.
Talking to The Hindu, ChPT officials said that the traffic police have asked the representatives of TOA and drivers to withdraw the strike immediately. All efforts would be made to reopen Gate 2A from Sunday night. The representatives of TOA and K. Asai Thambi of Anna Labour Union said that the strike might be called off soon.
Appeal to drivers
A release from ChPT stated that its chairman Atulya Misra along with Deputy Chairman and Traffic Manager inspected Zero Gate and 2A, Tiruvottiyur parking yard and the Ennore-Manali Expressway.
Mr. Misra spoke to the drivers and cleaners of container lorries stranded on the roadside and urged them to call off the strike immediately to provide relief to the residents suffering due to road blocks. To bring back normality, the representatives of Chennai Trade Co-ordination Committee also held several rounds of meetings with traffic police officers and impressed upon them to reopen Gate 2A.
While the announcement regarding reopening Gate 2A was cheered by everyone, small traders [exporting processed foods, fruits and vegetables] expressed dismay as they had suffered huge losses in the last one week due to levy of congestion charges since last week.
“These are recurring problems and they can be solved only with the widening of the 1.6-km road from Zero Gate to Kasimedu police station and commencement of the Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project among other things. But, we are kept in dark about their development,” said a small time trader.