Vizianagaram: The rising diesel prices have come as a blow to the freight transport sector, which has already been reeling under lack of orders due to various reasons, in north Andhra Pradesh comprising Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam districts. The members of the sector are of the opinion that they are forced to spend over 50 percent of their income on fuel only with the increasing fuel prices. The sector may face some more challenges in the coming days.

The Salur Town in Vizianagaram district is one of the major hubs in north Andhra Pradesh. After Vijayawada, Salur is one of the towns, which has more lorries than any other town. Secretary of Salur lorry owners' association, G. Madhava Rao said that from March 2020 till date, the price of diesel has increased over 30 percent and now the price of diesel is Rs 100 per liter. But the fright charges remain the same as no customer is ready to pay more.

For instance, the freight charge per tonne from Vizianagaram district to Raipur of Chhattisgarh is Rs 1,300 for the past two years despite the increased fuel prices. Due to this, some lorry owners have decided to sell their vehicle and to quit the business citing losses in the trade, said Madhava Rao.

The lorry industry is dependent on fuel only. The increased fuel prices and the decreased construction activities in the region have hit the lorry industry hard. If the construction (high-rise buildings, apartments, and few others) sectors are active, it will boost the transport activity with loads of cement, iron, electrical, plumbing, and few other transportations. But the construction activity is also dull in the region, said Arjun, secretary of Visakhapatnam lorry owners' association.

The closure of some of the companies such as Ferro Alloys and Jute Mills in the Vizag and Vizianagaram region had badly affected the transport business. The pandemic had hit our business. We didn't handle any new vehicles since lockdown. We are struggling to provide salary to workers with few orders. Some units have closed due to the virus and it seems the transport sector will face some more new challenges in the future, they added.

The BJP government promised to reduce the fuel prices before coming to power. But they have been increasing the fuel prices even though the crude oil price has decreased, they further added.

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