Agriculturalist-cum-second hand truck bus salesman, Ulhas Ambegaonkar’s Instagram, is rich of late with a truckload of visuals of his truck rides on American highways over the past four months, visits to pitstops, and the kind of facilities commercial vehicle drivers have access to. It boggles my mind.
It is natural to introspect: will it happen here in India? The obvious response is: yes, it will over time. There has been discussion on the need for wayside amenities on highways for a long time.
The February 2011 Policy Guidelines for Development of Wayside Amenities by the government admits its failure:
Providing wayside amenities along national highways and expressways is essential since passengers and drivers need certain minimum wayside facilities to make their travel safe, comfortable, and convenient to reduce fatigue in a long-distance journey.
.. In the past, bids invited by the highways authorities for the development of amenities on BOT mode were not very encouraging due to higher capital investment and difficulty in forecasting footfall and revenue generation, and there is a need for the development of a rational implementable policy.”
The policy guideline lists what amenities to provide for various categories. (See Chart)
Forget about the Guidelines under the leadership of Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari. Check Section 135 in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988:
“Schemes to be framed for the investigation of accident cases and waysides amenities, etc.
(1) The state government may, by notification in the official gazette, make or more schemes to provide for -
(a) an in-depth study on the cause and analysis of motor vehicle accidents;
(b) wayside amenities on highways;
© traffic aid posts on highways; and
(d) truck parking complexes along highways.
There’s more. Check Section 138(2) in the same Motor Vehicles Act 1988:
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for -
© the maintenance and management of wayside amenities complexes;
(e) the maintenance and management of parking places and stands and the fees, if any, which may be charged for their use.
The efforts underway for wayside facility creation were visible during the recent ride (March 2023) on the upcoming and partially-opened Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. When the entire stretch is thrown open in a year, the pudding will be ready for tasting.
Well, our focus is on truck parking on highways. Significantly, truck parking is a serious concern even in the United States. The need for them is the same whether India or the US.
“Just as the trucking industry is critical to our nation’s economic success and way of life, safe and accessible truck parking is critical to the people who drive trucks, the travelling public and the broader community,” says the Truck Parking Development Handbook published by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, released in September 2022.
What has the community got to do with truck parking? Well, we will examine it in the next dispatch.
(To be continued)