The Grand Trunk Road - Decorated Trucks in India and Pakistan
Life on the Road
Few drivers own their own truck and many individuals inherit their trucks from their fathers. Most drivers though work for a transporting company that owns a fleet of trucks. The job involves long hours on the road and extended periods away from home. The trucks carry goods such as rubber, bicycles, grains, brooms, fertiliser, fabric, and even fridges and televisions. It can take several days of driving for the goods to reach their destination.
Most drivers aim to keep the truck on the road for as long as possible, usually driving for up to 18 hours a day, and sleeping inside the truck for the other 6 hours. They dare not stop the truck or leave it out of sight for too long in case the goods are stolen. There is no insurance and the driver is responsible for making sure the goods reach their destination safely. If goods are stolen, it is the driver who must foot the bill. He also risks losing his job and becoming blacklisted:
“You try not to stop if you can help it - you can get looted if you are carrying something expensive, fabric, fridges, TV sets. But looters can make away with the goods from a moving vehicle – yes! They drive along side and help themselves! They can even shoot you to make you stop. It’s not a good way to earn a living but what choice do we have? It’s the only skill we have!”
This is why the driver hires a helper to travel with him. The helper sometimes shares the driving, but usually his job is to help the driver to keep the truck moving for as long as possible. The helper fixes punctures, keeps the windscreen clean and also cooks for the driver.