The second wave of COVID-19 has given a whopping blow of $2.4 billion loss to transporters across the country due to ongoing restrictions and lockdowns in April. And this could also impact the GDP growth, which is projected at 10.5% by the Reserve Bank of India for this fiscal year.
Jasjit Seth, chief executive of Transport Corporation of India, told ET that retail markets were impacted as there was a drop in load availability, and the overall supply chain was slowing down.
“The current wave is more aggressive and daily infection numbers are higher than ever. The impact is likely to spread to other states from just Maharashtra and Delhi. We feel there will be a minimum impact of 20% on load carriage, which may take away a couple of billion dollars in revenue for the logistics sector for the month,” Seth said.
SP Singh, a senior fellow and coordinator at the Indian Foundation for Transport Research & Training, said the demand till March 31 was very healthy, but over the last 10 days, there had been a drop in business of 15 to 20%. “The trucks are being moved from long-haulage trucks to agri-products. Despatches from the factory gates have dropped and the load availability has come down. Thankfully, there is a compensatory load of harvest or else the drop would have been even steeper,” Singh explained. “The load offtake from the wholesale market of the National Capital Region has seen a 30 to 50% drop. The NCR hub serves basic needs for the neighbouring states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, UP and Himachal Pradesh, but there are trucks lying idle.”
Truckers said the truck fleet utilization had peaked at 85% in March, which was better than the pre-COVID levels but has now dropped to 70%. Describing transport as a dependent business, Singh said it is not an independent business. “Since truckers will be having lesser trips to run, business is expected to go down by 25%. Truckers will be hard-pressed to pay back their EMIs.”
The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) estimates an up to 50% drop in demand in the sector, resulting in the daily lost business of about Rs 315 crore. Other industry stakeholders too expressed fear of the business getting hit due to the lockdowns but pegged a lower magnitude of impact.