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Keeping India’s Supply Chain Running

TV9 Network in partnership with Shriram Transport Finance Company (STFC) Ltd. and Apollo Hospitals facilitated truck drivers who risked their lives to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, oxygen and medical equipment during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Photo Credit : TV9

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The truck drivers being facilitated at the event.

With about 62.5 lakh kms of road length, India has the second largest road network in the world. The National and State Highways constitute nearly 3.5 lakh kms of length in this network. This share of highways in the total road network is set to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years due to the government’s push for infrastructure and Union Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari’s ambitious target to achieve 100 Km of highways construction every day. This pace is vital for India’s economic growth as road logistics is a majority player in India’s logistics market worth $160 billion.

However, the people involved in ensuring the share of road logistics in this market often go unrecognised. The truck drivers are the lifeline of India’s supply chain. They played an important role during the Covid-19 Pandemic, first by ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential items during the first wave and then by becoming lifesavers by supplying medical liquid oxygen to hospitals during the second wave. In order to shine the spotlight on them, TV9 Network in partnership with Shriram Transport Finance Company (STFC) Ltd. and Apollo Hospitals announced ‘Highway Heroes’ and felicitated truck drivers who stood rock solid through the course of COVID-19 at an event in Delhi on Monday. Kick-started in October 2021, the initiative travelled to Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi NCR to set up free medical check-up camps for truck drivers across the country.

Commenting on the success of the campaign, Barun Das, CEO, TV9 Network, recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for the media to serve the public and said, “We realised that with media’s great power comes great responsibility and we decided that we will remain true to our core which is to be of service to the public. We, therefore, decided to raise pertinent questions and address issues that needed to be discussed.”

Umesh Revankar, Vice Chairman, Shriram Transport Finance Company said, “As India emerges from the shadows of the pandemic, it is time to acknowledge the foot soldiers who kept the country on the move in face of sheer adversity. That’s why we thought that vaccinating truck drivers was the best possible way to salute their spirit and create awareness among this important segment of the transportation community against vaccine hesitancy.”

The drivers who were facilitated included Pravesh Kumar, who transported the first container of Covishield vaccines from Pune to Gujarat. Shivshankar helped transport oxygen concentrators to various locations across India, driving for over 36 hours at a stretch. Other Highway Heroes included Harish who helped transport daily essentials, Seranthain M, Samuthirapandian and Vijay Kasangar who transported liquid medical oxygen during the pandemic. Last, but not the least, was the driver of Clinic On Wheels, Dharamveer, who drove vehicles that were each fitted with beds, oxygen cylinders, and essential medical facilities but parked outside hospitals. 

Anshuman Tiwari, Editor, Money9 highlighted the contribution of the transportation sector in country’s GDP and urged policymakers to contemplate on a policy framework for the sector by accounting the challenges of the Pandemic. He said, “Past pandemics have taught us that the transportation sector not only acts as a rescuer but also as a carrier of the virus. It is now time for the policymakers to frame a policy to ensure that this sector acts only as a rescuer and rethink our definition of frontline workers by expanding its ambit to include the drivers of this sector as well.”

Thanking Shriram Transport Finance Company for being part of the Highway Heroes initiative, Raktim Das, Chief Growth Officer (Broadcasting & Digital), TV9 Network said, “Truck drivers serve as the backbone of Indian economy and their contribution during the Covid crisis in ensuring that supply lines keep moving has been extraordinary. As a network, we deeply care about people and their progress, especially those at the margins.”

Shriram Transport Finance Company has worked closely with the truck drivers community for years and helped them to graduate from a driver to the owner of a truck. The company has also ensured a holistic development of the children of these drivers by supporting them with scholarships and ensuring regular health check-up camps.