Surface logistics is the prime choice for freight transport in India. That’s because over 60% of all freight movements happen through it, and over 80% of passenger traffic as well. But do these stats mean that road transport is an option one would opt for, blind-folded? Well, it does give you the advantage of door-to-door logistics; there is no denying that fact. It is also the least-cost incurring option as compared to other alternatives, it has an extensive coverage in rural areas too, and it is like a feeder to other modes of transport. The ONLY downside is that its speed is comparatively slow and limited, OR IS IT?
There’s always more than what meets the eye. If you look through the truck driver’s eyes, you will see a clearer picture. The world of surface logistics isn’t all lush-green and rainbows, you will get to see the other side of it.
Here are some things we have seen in the surface logistics industry that you might have never given a thought to.
1. The roads are just not suitable across seasons. You will find damaged roads that lack repairs and maintenance, and create congestions and traffic. As a matter of fact, India has the second largest road connectivity in the world, but is ranked 87th in the world for its quality.
2. Because of poor road infrastructure, the average speed of a vehicle in India is about 30 km/hr, as compared to 85 km/hr of the rest of the globe. That’s nearly one-third!
3. It is not suitable for bulky and long distance journeys. One would only lose time and money behind it.
4. Because of poor roads, there are higher chances of break-down of the vehicle. It may result due to reasons like increased wear and tear, poor tyre life etc.
5. The change in freight rates is also irregular. The ever-changing price of fuel is disproportionate to the changes in freight charges.
6. The toll system is highly unorganised, and there are frequent and increasing delays in check posts. Here is the bulk of money which you may burn out.
7. Lower average speed means higher duration of the journey. It leads to a steep increase in driver fatigue, which is one of the predominant reasons of accidents in India.
8. The players in the surface logistics market are highly unorganised. Road transport is largely in the hands of private parties, each with a small fleet of trucks of the single-axle type and owning up to 5 trucks.
We are not implying that road transport should not be preferred, it’s the other way around. But the above challenges show that it is the poor infrastructure and improper rates in the form of freight and tolls that causes a headache for logistics managers. One more thing to know is that surface logistics contributes 1% to the total GDP. Considering that over 60% of the freight business is carried through roads, it is clearly not contributing much to the GDP. But the current government has plans to start halted projects, increase efficiency in constructing roads, and start using cement for construction as it is more durable and easier for repairing, connecting to numerous villages, among others. They have computed that the contribution to GDP can double by the year 2020.
Well, we hope the above visions come to life while we wait for 2020.
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