COVID-19: Challenges faced by the lorry transport operator

 

KUALA LUMPUR:  As we enter the fourth phase of Movement Control Order tomorrow, most of us are getting used to the ‘new normal’ of social distancing and obeying the advice given by the government to break the COVID-19 infection chain.

Nevertheless, the frontliners have been working hard to flatten the COVID-19 curve, hoping to get back normal for everyone before the end of May.

For some business operators, it’s not an easy ride as we may imagine. One of the lorry transport owners in the Subang area shared his challenges faced during this untimely COVID-19 pandemic.

Lorry transport owner T.Saminathan who owns and operates seven lorries shared his experience with One Malaya.

Saminathan told One Malaya that when the government imposed the first MCO on March 18, six of his lorries did not operate, except one which supplies vegetables to the market.

His other lorries normally engage in electronics, computers, hardware materials transportation.

“In our nature of business, we normally get our payment within 45 to 60 days. So imagine the January payment supposed to be received by end of March.

“But unfortunately, we still have not received some of the payments from our clients, which makes tough to roll the cash.

“At the moment, we have to touch our savings to pay office rentals, lorry payments to Credit Company, staff salary, and other expenses deemed to our operation.”

When asked on the six month’s bank moratorium relief introduced, he said normally lorry or logistic operators had to take a loan from credit companies, as bank hardly gives any loans for them to operate.

We understood that the banks only allow loans to operate the business but not to purchase any new or lease lorries.

In an estimate calculation, he has to pay an average of RM 50,000 to credit companies, excluding other expenses of lorry maintenance, toll top-up, refilling fuel, and miscellaneous expenses that may go to another additional RM 15,000 monthly.

“So imagine, if we don’t get our payment on time, it is really going to get tough.”

When asked about the special economic stimulus package given by the government for SMEs, Saminathan welcomed the idea and hoping to benefit as soon as possible pending approval.

“I have applied for the Socso scheme, where any company below 75 workers and salary earning below RM 4,000 are given RM 1,200.

“This RM 1,200 will directly be paid to my drivers and staff. The additional payments like a rental and described earlier, I have to source out for extra assistance.

“I even applied for the BSN Micro Scheme. We may get between RM 50,000 to RM75,000, hoping the bank will give due consideration to approve our application.

“If it’s approved, at least it may help us to alleviate the little burden on our shoulders.”

Saminathan also reminded us that the future of the logistic business cycle is still uncertain after the post-COVID-19.

“At the moment, we are not sure how many businesses will sustain economic challenges and whether we will continue to get more clients as usual.

“This is another contributing factor that we have to consider to sustain our business continuity,” he said.