Movement of essential commodities unaffected

CHENNAI, AUG. 21. Day one of the indefinite nationwide strike by truckers that began

today saw a large number vehicles staying off the road in Tamil Nadu, causing concern to the common man as the prices of daily use products could rise if the protest prolonged.

There were, however, no reports of disruption in supplies of essential commodities and untoward incidents. Truckers engaged in moving commodities, including petrol and diesel, are not participating in the strike called by the All-India Motor Transport Congress and its affiliates in protest against the proposed service tax on goods booking agents.

But the decision of owners of vehicles transporting liquefied petroleum gas in bulk to bottling plants to participate in the strike was worrying national oil companies as it could take more time to supply refills to households, which were getting them three days from the date of booking, an oil marketing company official said.

"The strike is in full swing and one lakh vehicles Statewide did not ply today," said Rajinder Singh, president of Chennai Goods Transport Association. The protesting truckers were not forcing anyone to join them and all those who were participating were doing so voluntarily, he said.

Saturday saw two trailer operators associations, engaged in transporting containers from and to the Chennai port to nearby locations, withdrawing from the strike.

Relief to exporters

According to a trade source, the decision of the trailers should come as a relief to exporters and importers as they could take out containers from the port and ship them from container freight stations.

Noting that the trailers were likely to resume work latest by Sunday morning, the source, however, said it would facilitate only the movement of the cargo boxes in and around Chennai. The fate of other containers would depend on other transporters.

A report from Erode said 750 lorries, which plied to locations in north India, were off the road today. But three thousand and odd lorries, which moved goods in and around Erode, were operated. Lorry booking firms despatched goods.