Truckers suffer due to restrictions after Kolkata bridge collapse

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Kolkata : West Bengal truckers have been facing hardships due to the restrictions imposed on the movement of heavy vehicles following the partial collapse of Majherhat bridge in the city and are staring at huge losses, an official said on Saturday.

The state government said 20-wheel truck trailers would not be allowed to ply in the cities and police had been directed to ensure this.

"A huge number of trucks loaded with various goods including perishables are stranded on the national and state highways and they are not allowed to enter Kolkata.

"The government put restrictions on movement of 20-wheeler trailers, but many four-wheeler medium commercial vehicles have also been stopped by the police without assigning any reasons," Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators' Association Joint Secretary Sajal Ghosh told IANS.

Truckers demanded alternative arrangements from the state government and the city police, since "stopping the movement of heavy vehicles can't be a solution" as it leads "not only to business loss but also job loss", Ghosh said.

According to him, there are about 40,000 trailers having 18-22 wheels or so, out of 3.5 lakh trucks in the state.

A total of 20 bridges across cities and suburbs in West Bengal have been found to have outlived their life.

Stuck in Bankura district, a truck driver said: "We had loaded onions in Andhra Pradesh and were stuck here since morning. No-entry was imposed. If the goods are not unloaded in time, we get penalised. It is a cause of worry."

Driver of a Shillong-bound lorry carrying eggs apprehended that the consignment could get damaged leading to a huge loss.

Traffic has been diverted in the city and goods vehicles are allowed to ply during nights only since the collapse of Majerhat bridge portion on Tuesday afternoon, which killed three persons and injured 19 others.

Meanwhile, Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, at state secretariat Nabanna said on Saturday that the movement of light and medium vehicles would not be allowed on four flyovers in the city until they get repaired.

With restrictions on very heavy vehicles, the business in port area was "affected immensely" as the heavy duty vehicles used to carry imported machines and containers from the Netaji Subhas and Khidderpore docks of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), Ghosh said.

The Kolkata Port Trust has been feeling the pinch due to stringent restrictions on the heavy vehicles' movement and traffic diversion, and the collapsed railway overbridge was one of routes linking the docks.

"We had a joint meeting with all the stakeholders today (Saturday) to sort out the problems. The port authority is in constant touch with the city traffic police and the state government to tide over the difficulties. Movement of traffic, both inbound and outbound of docks, was affected to some extent," KoPT Chairman Vinit Kumar said.

He said all "possible alternative arrangements are being made" to ease out the traffic movement.