Truckers’ strike hits coal exports to Bangladesh

SHILLONG, Feb 10 Coal exports from Meghalaya to Bangladesh was hit in the wake of the indefinite strike by truckers’ bodies protesting “extortion” along highways as the three Meghalaya districts faced possible shortage of essentials with all truckers joining the stir from today.

The strike, spearheaded by Goalpara District Truck Owners’ Association (GDTOA) of Assam and backed by Meghalaya Commercial Truck Owners’ and Operators’ Association and others began on February 7 in protest against alleged ‘illegal’ collection of money at weigh bridges, toll gates and pollution testing centres along the highways.

While the coal-laden trucks stopped plying from February 7, all trucks resorted to the blockade from today, reports said.

Coal exports to Bangladesh through the Ghasuapara land customs station in South Garo Hills came to a halt with the Ghasuapara coal transporters too stopping transportation on NH-62.

The President of North-east Federation on International Trade, RC Agrawal, said around 250 coal-laden trucks daily ply to Bangladesh on the route and the movement came to a halt since the strike began.

Around 15,000 metric tonne of coal is exported through the Ghasuapara land customs station daily.

About 550 trucks carrying coal and essential commodities, including LPG, enter the Garo Hills region from western Assam districts daily.

The truckers’ bodies threatened not to withdraw the strike unless the Meghalaya Government addresses the problem of ‘extortion’ along highways permanently.