If a vehicle is towed to the District Transport Office, around Rs 70,000 is levied as a legal fine, so truck drivers prefer to bribe officials on the road with Rs 15,000 – Rs 20,000 and go scot-free


JORABAT, March 13: Corruption on highways by enforcement agencies is an open secret. Truck drivers and fleet owners together allegedly shell out huge amounts as bribes every month to individuals that include motor vehicle inspectors (MVIs), enforcement officials and other agencies.

Responding to verbal complaints from drivers, owners and conscious sections of society regarding the harassment by MVI officials on the stretch from Jalukbari to Sonapur of the National Highway-37, this correspondent made a round of this area and found shocking details regarding the same.

Interaction with drivers, fleet operators and sources in the law enforcing agencies exposed how truck and commercial heavy vehicles are the punching bags for enforcement agencies. Drivers claimed that harassment by transport department officials is the major irritant for them on roads.

However, drivers and truck operators admitted that they pay bribes for failing to meet norms or to get things done quickly. They conceded that the major reasons for paying bribes to the transport officials (MVIs) are for lack of proper and valid documents, overloading, including some minor violations. They also said that by paying bribes, they avoid hassles in physical verification of goods.

It may be mentioned that around 300 stone-laden dumpers and around 100 sand-laden trucks ply on NH-37 through this area. These vehicles are mostly overloaded, lack proper documents and are rashly driven to gain maximum profits. However, they are allowed to continue with their illegal and dangerous acts, allegedly under the protection of some corrupt transport officials and the dumper associations which manage the same.

Sources informed that these dumpers allegedly shell out Rs. 10,000 per month as ‘protection money’ to some transport officials and carry on with their activities throughout the month. If only these stone and sand-laden dumpers are taken into consideration, massive protection money amounting to Rs 30 lakh is collected every month by the corrupt officials only at the said stretch.

A truck owner from Dimoria who did not wish to be named, claimed that trucks which transport goods with some extra load are intercepted by the transport officials and threatened of legal action. “In such a situation, as set by the officials, a minimum bribe of Rs 15,000 – Rs 20,000 needs to be paid on the spot to free the vehicle.”

Interestingly, if the vehicle is towed to the District Transport Office, around Rs 70,000 is levied as a legal fine and to avoid paying this hefty amount, the truckers pay bribes to the corrupt officials, informed sources. Moreover, for a month now, officials have allegedly started fixing the protection money amounting to Rs 8,000 for cement-carrying trucks.

Truckers informed that apart from using the official vehicles, some officials also use their private cars while collecting the monthly protection money.