The Chocked Oxygen Supply Chain
We are at a stage in the country where besides Covid, people are fighting for Oxygen. With the number of cases growing at an unprecedented pace, the demand for Oxygen has been more than ever before. While companies are ramping up production to make as much Oxygen available, a hidden and unspoken challenge is getting the Oxygen to the destinations across India. While people are scrambling and even fighting for getting Oxygen, has anyone thought about who gets the Oxygen to them?
It is obvious that Oxygen cannot travel on its own and has to be ferried tankers, which are loaded on trucks. Eventually it is the truck drivers who make sure that the Oxygen tankers reach the destination in the shortest possible time. However is all well with the truck drivers who undertake journeys spanning thousands of kilometres in the shortest possible time to make sure that Oxygen reaches the destination and eventually to the patients who are struggling to stay alive. Has anyone in the last few days spoken about the truck drivers who have been working 7 days a week to keep the supplies running?
The following are some of the challenges faced by the truck drivers, especially those involved in the movement of Oxygen:
- Drivers engaged in the movement of Oxygen need specialised training and they are in limited numbers – though that is still not a deterrent to the supply of Oxygen.
- Trucks carrying Oxygen cannot run at a speed of more than 50 kmph, which restricts the number of kilometres that a truck runs in a day. The government may have built expressways and highways, but putting a speed limitation doesn’t ensure faster movement of Oxygen movement.
- With Covid spreading like wild fire, many states have imposed lockdowns. At the same time, many dhabas on the highways too have shut down fearing the virus. In such a situation it has become a challenge for the truck drivers to get food or even something as basic as a cup of tea. It is imperative from a safety point of view as well that truck drivers take breaks after driving for a few hours. However in the absence of dhabas, where does the truck driver stop to rest or eat something?
- Trucks are often targeted by police officials to extract bribes. While the truck drivers carrying Oxygen may be spared at this point of time, usually they are subject to a lot of harassment by the officials on the highways.
So while the truck drivers risk their lives to make sure that they get the supplies of Oxygen in the shortest possible time, there is no facility for them – not even appreciation or a pat on the back. We wish to encourage as well as appreciate the truck drivers for their efforts. While they work harder than before to keep the pipelines full of Oxygen, the logistical pipeline still remains chocked with hardships.