Highway Horrors: India’s First Woman Trucker shares harassment faced by drivers on the road

Yogita Raghuvanshi, India’s first female truck driver, recently shared her experience of life on the road during a speech at the launch of Highway Heroes by AITWA. Speaking with great courage, Yogita discussed the difficulties that drivers endure while driving in the presence of Special Secretary (Logistics) Sumita Dawra.

She expressed frustration towards the constant harassment and corruption faced on the road, stating, “I feel like RTOs don’t get paid by the government and rely on income from the drivers to run their households.”

She further went on to question the need of RTOs after the abolishment of checkposts.

Yogita remarked that RTOs are out on the roads only to harass drivers even after checkposts have been removed. “Drivers wait for hours hoping to start after the RTOs go from the spots. That’s because we know they are there only to harass us and take money. Why do we need RTOs now when the government has abolished check posts and all details and payments made to the government are available online?” she said. This remark of hers received huge applause from drivers and transporters alike.

It is important to note that since the implementation of GST in July 2017, there is no longer a requirement for regular transport check posts at state borders. The Vahan and Sarthi platforms have enhanced the online data related to vehicles and drivers.

However, the RTOs continue to harass Indian Truckers. This results in a delay in the transportation of goods.

Yogita, recalling a recent incident that took place during her recent trip to Meghalaya, shared: “There is no border (checkpost) in Bihar: But I saw a man in uniform taking money from drivers. I clicked his photo and asked why he was there when the checkposts had been removed. He asked me to show my papers and threatened that he would show me how the checking by RTOs has been done away with. They simply harass people if someone does not pay.”

Yogita Raghuvanshi became the first woman truck driver in India in 2006 when she obtained a license to drive heavy vehicles. Before that, she had a license to ride a two-wheeler. “I needed to earn more for my children. I was searching for alternatives when I began my journey as a truck driver. During the first week, I earned INR 2,000. So, I thought if I worked for a month, I could earn INR 8,000. In my previous job, I was earning INR 3,000 per month,” she explained.

In her first assignment, Yogita took a 1,100 km long trip from Bhopal to Hyderabad, which she covered in three days.

Now, Yogita owns a 10-wheeled truck offered by an automobile major for being India’s first woman truck driver. “I now run my truck in the open market. I decide the trips… and in one long trip, I save INR 30,000,” she said.