The Road Transport Ministry has urged all state Transport Secretaries to carry out “special vaccination drive” for liquid oxygen tanker drivers, and admit and treat them on priority if they contract Covid-19.
The advisory assumes significance considering that the oxygen tanker drivers are now in high demand with transport of this crucial medical aid to hospitals across the country having increased pace.
Only drivers with adequate training and the “hazardous cargo” licence are allowed to operate the liquid oxygen trucks. The demand for such drivers is expected to be high for a few more months for oxygen management.
The ministry has also said the government’s immediate focus is to make available around 500 drivers in the next few weeks. It has said the numbers will be increased gradually to 2,500 in the next two months.
It has asked the states to quickly upskill the drivers with training in handling hazardous chemicals and liquid medical oxygen through short programmes and apprenticeships. Secondly, they have been asked to also upskill heavy motor vehicle licence holders.
Sources said the government is also contemplating a proposal to give financial incentive of around Rs 15,000 to each oxygen tanker driver for their service.
Meanwhile, trucking industry sources said the government should also consider giving priority to drivers of commercial vehicles engaged in transport of essential supplies including pharmaceuticals, medical aids and other necessary items to ensure there is no shortage of these items in the market.
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