Will set up driver training institutes in each constituency: Nitin Gadkari

To meet the shortfall of 25 lakh commercial vehicle drivers across the country and to impart quality education and etiquette to them, the government has offered to set up driving institutes.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has offered to set up driving institutes in every Parliamentarian’s constituency. There are 543 constituencies in India.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Gadkari said, “There is a shortfall of 25 lakh drivers in the country. I have conceptualized a driver training institute. I am ready to set up one such institute in each constituency.”

“These institutes need not come up in big cities like Mumbai, Delhi or Kolkata but in areas where there is need for development such as tribal and backward areas. This will provide direct employment to lakhs”, Gadkari added.

Truck and bus making companies such as Tata Motors, Eicher Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and Daimler have repeatedly raised the issue of a shortage of drivers.

Large fleet buyers have struggled to grow their businesses because of a lack of drivers with the new generation refusing to take up driving as a profession.

“Many times it so happens that the cleaner or helper in the bus or truck graduates to become the driver and this has been going on for generations. Lives of people inside the vehicle and outside is at great risk if there is an untrained driver at the wheel”, added Gadkari.

According to industry watchers, the average salary of commercial vehicle drivers ranges between Rs 20,000-30,000 per month. This is less than half when compared to the salaries paid to drivers in the US where they get between Rs 50,000-60,000 per month with benefits.

The difference is despite the fact that drivers in India spend more time on the road. The average time spent on the road per trip is 12 hours, which is nearly double compared to that in the US.

Manufacturers such as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have started welfare programs for drivers under various initiatives that offer free health check-up and insurance coverage for health and hospitalization.

The growth in the ecommerce space over the last several years has given the commercial vehicle industry a major fillip, which has resulted in the need for fleet addition as well as the creation of commercial driver jobs.

As per the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) commercial vehicle sales grew 18 percent last year to 1 million units compared to 8.56 lakh units sold in 2017-18.