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Rampant Corruption in Trucking Operations

India’s economic progress has been remarkable during the last one decade. Transport plays a very important role because roads carry three-fourths of the freight traffic. The share of road transport in GDP is presently 4.66 percent.

TI India’s study indicates that truckers are required to pay bribes at every stage of their operations, which starts with getting registration and fitness certificates, and for issuance and renewal of interstate and national permits. The reasons for paying bribes, while on the road, include plying overloaded trucks, traffic violations, parking at no-parking places or entering in ‘no-entry zone’, and in the payment of toll and other taxes like octroi, sales tax etc. Lack of proper documents or use of alcohol by truck drivers are the other reasons for paying bribe. Due to the largely unorganized nature of the trucking operations (86% consist of small entrepreneurs), assessment of the extent of corruption is a difficult one.

Major Findings

A truck operator pays between Rs 211 and Rs 266 per day as bribe at toll plazas, checkpoints, state borders or during en route stoppages on the pretext of checking documents. Based on this estimate, Rs 79,920 are paid annually by a single truck. With around 36 lakh trucks currently operational, total bribe amount works out to more than Rs 22,200 crore a year - almost equal to the truck drivers’ remuneration.
This practice is highly institutionalized because the truck drivers get some kind of ‘receipt’ in the form of stickers, tokens etc. to ensure their hassles free movement.

The total share of RTO and Police, the two key enforcement agencies, works out to be around 88% (43% and 45%, respectively) of the total bribe involved.

About 60% of en-route (forced) stoppages, taking up to 11 hours in a day, by concerned authorities like RTO, Police, forest, sales and excise, octroi, weighing and measuring department are for extorting money.

The number of trips performed by a truck could increase by 40%, if forced delays are avoided. Such delays are estimated to cost the national economy to the extent of Rs 1130.47 crore per year.

Harassment at the hands of Police and RTO staff results in rash and negligent driving to make up the time lost. Indifferent attitude of the transport department is the main reason for approaching middlemen or touts.

Major Suggestions

  • Single Inspection Squads at inter-state check posts to give ‘No-Objection Certificate’ (NOC) on behalf of all departments.
  • E- truck transport - Computerisation of transport offices and inter-linking them across the country.
  • Online Registration of vehicles and permit facility
  • Outsourcing of services for registration and fitness certificates
  • Drop boxes for paying road, sales and other taxes and fees
  • Independent and decentralised vigilance
  • Uniformity in rules across the country
  • Upgraded transportation services without en-route inspections on the basis of a certificate issued at the point of origin
  • Sensitization of stakeholders - Truck operators and drivers to practice certain self-regulation measures
  • Improved Infrastructure through more expressways and bypasses
  • Prominent display of rules & regulations and Citizens’ Charters with contact telephone numbers in various languages at prominent places en-route

Methodology

This report by Marketing & Development Research Associates (MDRA) for Transparency International India (TII) and sponsored by Shriram Group is based on a field study to assess the extent and nature of corruption in the trucking operations. In all, 1222 truck drivers and operators were interviewed at12 trucking centers out of 16 major trucking hubs in the country, besides officials, experts, and senior executives of leading truck companies and truck operators’ association.

Read the Executive Summary of the Report on Corruption in Trucking Operations in India.


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Admiral (Retd) R H Tahiliani
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