Oxygen tankers will now be GPS-enabled to ensure constant monitoring. On May 4, Rs 10 lakh was donated by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) to the Transport Department for the same.
At present, the transportation of oxygen cylinders, liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and oxygen concentrators have achieved prime importance owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tankers have been playing a vital role in their transportation. Despite the Indian Railways operating Oxygen Express trains where movement of these tankers are monitored, there is little knowledge of the exact location of these tankers when they hit the road.
“GPS-enabled tankers will surely prove useful. We can monitor them on our dashboard,” said an official from the Transport Department. “The tankers would be able to do a quick turnaround and help save more lives,” he added.
In the first phase, 250 tankers ferrying LMO will be installed with GPS devices, for which FADA has provided a fund of Rs 10 lakh. The oxygen tankers will be enabled with the fitment from this week starting Tuesday. Amar Jatin Sheth, Maharashtra chairperson, FADA, said, “This was an opportunity to contribute for the state by efficiently managing the movement of the tankers through technology.”
Meanwhile, Mahindra Logistics rolled out 100 vehicles for the transportation of oxygen cylinders on demand. They will partner with the civic authorities of different cities and towns and even hospitals as part of a free service initiative called Oxygen On Wheels. This has been launched in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Chakan, Nashik and Nagpur with over 100 Mahindra vehicles ferrying oxygen. The initiative to deliver oxygen cylinders directly to patients’ homes is also under consideration. Anish Shah, managing director and CEO, Mahindra Group said, “Oxygen On Wheels meets an urgent need by partnering with local authorities to help save precious lives and reduce the pressure on our healthcare services.”
However, truck associations claim that drivers carrying essential goods are unnecessarily being stopped by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials. “Various enforcement officials manning the barricades are asking for RT-PCR test reports from drivers, which we believe is not required for them. They are harassing and extorting money from them. It is leading to wastage of time and utter discouragement,” said Bal Malkit Singh, chairman, core committee and former president, All India Motor Transport Congress. The association has also written a letter to Municipal Commissioner IS Chahal on May 4 on the matter. “Already there is a shortage of drivers and they are afraid to work in the present scenario. If such incidents of harassment and extortion persist, then it would further discourage them to come to work and there will be disruption of supplies of all types of essential commodities,” stated the letter.