IMPHAL, January 12: This year too, the 14th of January is going to be celebrated as the 25th Drivers’ Day at the ISBT Complex, Khuman Lampak under the aegis of All Manipur Petroleum Tanker’s Driver Union and Transporter’s and Driver Forum.
The observation is to show love and respect to the drivers who are no more with them and aged and retired from drivers by offering some humble gifts.
As per the figures from the All Manipur Petroleum Tankers Drivers Union, the drivers who are no more since the beginning of the observation is about 62, deceased handymen is recorded at five, drivers who are aged and retired are 11 and those recognized as veteran drivers till 2014 are five.
The observation was started from January 14, 1990 in remembrance of the day of raising the first voice against the inhuman killing of drivers along the National Highway 39 (NH-2). Thousands of tortured, humiliated, heart-broken drivers gathered at the Koirengei Air Field for seven days protesting against the unbearable bad roads, tortures at the hands of police personnel, the horrible incident at Keithel Manbi of Senapati District and the unexpected dangers of driving through Nagaland.
In the month of June in 1994, some unknown armed persons killed a young under training handyman at Zubza in Nagaland. To protest the inhuman killing more than 200 trucks and oil tankers took out a rally around Imphal expressing anger and grievances. More than 1000 trucks and oil tankers stopped at Koirengei Air Field for nine days. Manipur is a landlocked stated and surface transport is the only means for transportation of goods, petroleum and petroleum products.
In this connection Irengbam Tompok Singh who was an important leader of Manipur, joined the groups at Koirengei and tried very hard to bring about a compromise and a settlement by inviting the then Chief Minister of Nagaland.
Various drivers’ unions have been ceaselessly struggling against the inhuman treatment shown to the drivers. As a result, the numbers of frequency have been reduced to some extent from frequent undesirable treatment of drivers at the hand of Motor Vehicle, Excise, and Narcotic personnel who had been threatening or beating or distorting money in the name of checking. The driver faced tragic incidents in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and they can never forget them.
In the year 1998, oil tankers carrying petrol was stopped at Chakumei by unknown person and burnt, and the driver was put in a miserable condition. This was recorded as the first incident of burning oil tanker carrying petrol along the national Highway number 39.
In another incident on December 31, 2000 another oil tanker was burned down at a spot between Mao and Tadubi for the second time by unknown armed persons etc.
The suffering of the drivers led to the formation of the union. In recognition of the union, security personnel of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam had been helping the drivers by making efforts not to make the drives by giving security cover and important information regarding the movement of vehicles, the union stated.