…with conditions

Kelzang Wangchuk

Truckers have resumed ferrying gypsum from Khothakpa in Pemagatshel to Samdrupjongkhar after the State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL) agreed on March 25 to increase the transportation rate.

The truckers stopped ferrying gypsum on March 19 after the SMCL issued a notification stating that the company could not increase the transportation rate after truckers demanded an increase following  the hike in diesel price on March 17.

The SMCL issued a notification stating that the company had revised the transportation rate and asked the truckers to resume ferrying gypsum on March 25.

The notification stated that in the interest of business of both SMCL and the truckers, the company increased the transportation rate from Nu 964 to Nu 984 per metric tonne (MT) to resume transportation.

It also stated that if the SMCL’s offer of Nu 20 per MT, besides being the highest for gypsum transport, is not responded to by the truckers, the company would be forced to terminate the contract with individual truckers or owners.

“The company would have to invoke the contract clause 11.1.6, which mentioned the company without bearing any liability to the truck or tipper owners and without any prior notice, suspend or terminate the agreement as a cost-cutting mechanism,” the notification stated.

As per the notification, if truckers accept the SMCL’s offer, they should resume transportation of gypsum immediately, and if anyone chooses to deny the offer, the company would have no other choice than to terminate the contract agreement.

Meanwhile, truck drivers said although the SMCL had increased the rate by Nu 20 per MT, they still do not have much profit because they have to spend Nu 10,874 on fuel every day besides the wear and tear.

They said they could transport 10 to 18 truckloads a month. “Most of the truckers are from the middle-class income family and depend on the income from ferrying gypsum.”

“It would be helpful if concerned authorities such as the government could revise the load capacity,” a driver said.