One of the unsung heroes of modern Manipur is our transporters – the drivers of carrier trucks and oil-tankers. Being a land-locked region with no access to rail lines they are our constant support for ferrying supplies of essential commodities and oil from government storages into the state. However, the value of their service extends manifolds due to the inherent problems of road blockage faced along the routes. Some of the problems can be enumerated as rough terrain, hostile activities by native people residing along the highways, coercion and extortion by plethora of militants and other people on their behalf and frequent and long-lasting bandhs and blockades. Many drivers and helpers sacrificed their lives in the line of duty yet their compatriots continue to serve the people with unflinching royalty and valor in difficult circumstances. Compelling sense to acknowledge the significance of their contribution have been felt during taxing times arising from seasonal inaccessibility of the highways, bandhs and blockades and major damages to bridges and landslides. But otherwise they never received the amount of gratitude from the administration or the public that they so right deserved.
Recalling their invaluable shares in fulfilling our day to day affairs will be appropriate with the memory of the recent Drivers’ Day celebration still lingering. True, every profession has its own hazards and special offerings. Soldiers defend our frontiers, the police guards our lives and properties, doctors and nurses provide us with health-care and so on. Every profession carries its own weight and grading them one above the other on any basis will be unfair. Yes, freight service is a thriving business and earns money for the vehicles owners and the drivers and helpers. Having said that the society should be sensitive to our fellow brethrens who had time and again stepped out from their normal line of duties in dire circumstances when our state was on the brink of disasters, facing scarcity of oil, medicines and food grains and even staring at the prospect of starvation due to natural causes like landslides, heavy rain etc or due to foolhardy blocking of the highways and bandhs enforced by organisations without the mandate of the people. The drivers have earned our respect and adulation for the intrepidness and compliance with which they responded to the call of the hours, putting their lives and vehicles in danger.
The administration should understand that the drivers have been carrying out their duties with great responsibilities not only for themselves and their families but for the whole state. Scores of drivers are being tortured, humiliated and heart-broken for no fault of theirs each day along the highways. It is high time for the administration to wake up and take steps to ensure normal working conditions by listening to their grievances and talking to their counterparts in the neighboring states.