The police may well have justified their action by arresting nearly 30 truck drivers, who resorted to violence and set a police van on fire at JNPT on Sunday evening. However, a close observation of the scenario reveals that that probably was the only option the drivers were left with to make authorities aware of their problems.

Unprofessional and corrupt officials manning the JNPT entry points are allegedly resulting in serpentine queues for days

The police may well have justified their action by arresting nearly 30 truck drivers, who resorted to violence and set a police van on fire at JNPT on Sunday evening. However, a close observation of the scenario reveals that that probably was the only option the drivers were left with to make authorities aware of their problems.On the one hand, the drivers are forced to wait in serpentine queues for over three days to enter the ports without food and water, while on the other, the traffic police and security officials leave no opportunity to take bribe from them.Cargo container trucks from different parts of the country come to all three terminal operators in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust — JNPTC, NSCIT, GTI. Because of various internal issues of these operators and the unprofessional officials at the entry points, every truck has to wait in queue for two to three days.”It takes hardly five minutes to make one entry pass for one truck. However, the officials take up to 30 minutes, resulting in extremely slow traffic movement in the area. As there is no one to look into this matter, we have to bear the brunt,” said Rakesh Mishra, a truck driver.Also, there is no proper hotel in that stretch of four to five kilometres, so the truck drivers have to survive mostly on vada pavs or batata vadas for three days. “We can’t even expect the basic human needs while waiting in the queue,” Mishra added.”After spending three days like this, when we reach the entry point of a terminal, the officials check the documents of our truck. They don’t allow us to enter the terminal even if they find a minor mistake on the papers, thanks to the newly introduced security formalities. We inform our employers about it on phone and again wait in queues for another three days,” said Sudhakar Mote, another truck driver.Because of this chaos, many a time, the containers do not reach the port before their ships leave, resulting in major loss in business. “If a driver misses a ship to export the container, he has to wait for the next ship. At times, it takes nearly a month for the next ship to leave that port,” he said.

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JNPT episode: A sudden outbreak of long-term frustration