During the pandemic, a very crucial segment that was responsible for ensuring that no shortages took place and kept open the supply chains to industries, markets and consumers across India was the Trucker community. This community, at great personal health risk travelled across the length and breadth of India ensuring that economic activity continues.
This community is an integral part of Bridgestone’s ecosystem and the company has been actively reaching out to them since the pandemic first hit the country. Bridgestone India is working towards safety of truckers many of whom may have been stuck at borders because of sudden announcement of lockdowns.
Bridgestone India focused on preventive safety measure and hygiene to secure the trucker community from infection. Around 6000 safety kits were provided to them. These included masks, hand gloves, sanitizer and bath soap. An education initiative was also undertaken that provided information on COVID protection. With a major focus on generating awareness on Covid, safety videos and posters were extensively used. By this initiative Bridgestone did reach out to more than 5000 truckers.
Since Jan 2021 More than 800 truckers were assisted for vision screening under Drishti camps, a Bridgestone India initiative that focuses on truckers eye health and correspondingly aims to reduce road accidents. Cases with low vision and required rectification were given spectacles. Content relevant to Covid safety, videos and posters are being circulated on regular basis to educate truckers’ community.
Under the Bridgestone’s flagship initiative, Project Sarthi, the company will continue to work with truckers towards upgrading their skills. Project Sarthi aims at professionally training Heavy Motor Vehicle Drivers for better employment opportunities and also for ensuring safe driving practices. So far 484 Heavy Motor Vehicle Drivers have been trained under this programme. Two Sarthi support centres were established in Mahalunge, Pune and Kharagpur, West Bengal to reach maximum numbers of truckers.
During the first wave of pandemic, Bridgestone India had taken several initiatives to support truckers. They were provided emergency survival kits, hygiene products and ration for 15 days during the lockdown when truckers were stranded on several highways. 364 tyre fitters were supported with tyre repairing kits as part of the restoration phase. This section of the trucking community has faced severe loss of earning opportunity due to lockdown.