Behind the wheel – An everyday tale of a truck driver
They say goodbye to their families to satisfy our needs. Let’s celebrate their contribution by thanking a truck driver today!
When we think of cargo, shipping, or logistics as a whole- our thoughts automatically jump to the shipment, delivery, and vehicle.
But what about the people who make it possible?
What about the people behind the wheels, the backbone of the on-land, cross-border logistics industry, who drive non-stop, be it day or night, so that the land transport sector is always thriving?
What about our highway heroes?
A vast number of unorganized and company-based truck drivers play a vital role in the movement of goods across GCC. However, most of us know very little about their work or their personal lives. We only know that they drive a thousand miles so that our businesses may receive shipments seven days of the week.
But what is it like to be a truck driver? And more importantly, what unique challenges do truck drivers face daily in their working lives?
We at Redlogik acknowledge the herculean role that truck drivers play in the logistics industry, and we are here to shed light on their challenges and attributes so that tomorrow may be bright for them and us.
A representative from Redlogik interviewed truck drivers in the State of Qatar to discover their real-life stories, including early struggles, challenges, and successes, to truly understand the roadblocks truck drivers may face through their career paths.
Let's take a journey through one day in the Life of our highway heroes.
It's a calm and beautiful evening in Najma, Qatar, and the soft evening sun drapes the landscape like a soft blanket. Several trucks are lined up near the famous second-hand furniture market. This place is seen as a perfect destination for those on a budget to soak in artisanal carvings, intricate woodwork, and beautiful furniture. Dotted around the market, you can find willing individuals who follow you throughout your shopping and offer help you transport your purchases. They are friendly, reliable, and always ready to provide you with a good deal on your delivery. Redlogik caught up with one such driver to discover more details about his journey in the field.
Meet Mr. Atif Gul: Truck driver, family man, good Samaritan.
Atif is a 30-year-old resident of Qatar. He is part of an informal workforce where circumstances did not leave them with many choices. Four years back, he came to Qatar and chose truck driving as his profession to earn his bread and butter, and provide a respectable lifestyle to his family back home.
"My brother has lived in Qatar for a long time, and he helped me come here. I arrived with wishes for a better life and hopes for a better income," said Atif.
Changing your Life for the better is about choosing a perfect destination and taking one step at a time to get there. For Atif, Qatar was that ideal destination as it is definitely a land of opportunities. He says, "Although, I, initially faced challenges – for example, it took me a year to acquire my driving license. In that period, I had to work as a laborer helping drivers load and unload goods to earn an income– but despite that, I did manage to gain a much better way of life. Since my brother was already here, he gave me a truck, and I started my journey with that vehicle."
A truck driver's day in Qatar is almost always long. The workday's actual length can vary depending on the number of trips, road quality, weather, destination, and of course, traffic. However, truck drivers' work conditions are often associated with unpredictable and unstable work schedules.
"Well, that's the thing. There isn't a typical work week for a truck driver. My schedule is unpredictable; one day, I may constantly drive for many hours, then another day, I will be waiting for customers. For me, a good day is always spent on the open roads," stated Atif.
"You and I are very similar. We work to earn a living. The only difference is that you go home to your family every night while I am delivering goods that your family and the society want and need."
Getting customers is the part of the trucking business that most truckers have to struggle with. And for Atif, it is no exception, he says:
"Sometimes I am fortunate to receive 4 to 5 trips, or even more, and sometimes, no work or trips at all. For example, today, I didn't get a single customer until this evening. And on other days, I have many customers and have to keep to a tight schedule. It also depends on the season - during summer as the daytime is longer, I tend to get more customers compared to the winter."
However, the highway hero that Atif is, doesn't mention that while Qatar's summers are long and fruitful, they are also scorching hot. When the sun is up high, there are days that temperatures exceed 45 degrees celsius. When most of us shudder to exit an air-conditioned room, Atif is busy loading and unloading deliveries after driving long distances in the infamous desert heat. Not to forget the windy winter nights where temperatures drop to single digits in remote parts of Qatar. Be it the harsh heat or chilling cold, our highway heroes brave the weather every day to drive distances short and long within Qatar and across borders. For the longer drives, truck drivers may begin their days at sunrise and drive on for hours past sunset only to halt in the late hours of the night for a short break, where they set-up a small burner road-side and cook themselves a well-deserved meal.
Whatever the conditions may be, our highway heroes continue to drive on towards financial success. Atif charges QR 300 with labor per trip, and without labor, it is QR 200. An average trip lasts 4 to 5 hours, including loading and unloading time. When he manages to get regular customers, he can earn up to QR 15000 a month, if not, at least QR 4000 monthly.
Atif lives in Najma with five others sharing a single room that costs QR 1000 a month, which equates to QR 200 per person. In case of any medical treatment, he goes to the emergency department at the health center and pays QR 6 per visit as he doesn't hold any health card.
Leaving behind family and children back home, it's a very lonely feeling indeed; however, Atif always tries to look on the bright side as he can meet all their expenses and give them a life they love. "I don't focus on the quantity of time I get with my family, it's more about the quality, and we are sure to value the special days when we're together. Also, I have relatives here, so I can still manage to have a good time hanging out with them here in Qatar." If truck driving continues to be lucrative and offers a bright future, Atif may encourage his sons to come over here to follow in his footsteps. However, if they want to pursue another career, Atif would be more than happy with any career path they choose.
Atif plans to keep on trucking, save more money to buy more trucks, and ultimately build the house of his dreams in Pakistan. When asked if it would be better to have an app like Uber to support the drivers and get customers, Atif replied with joy, "Yes, of course! That would be fantastic as it would help us to get more customers, but I do wonder what the service charge would be."
We heard what Atif and the other highway heroes have to say, and we are here to simplify their journey using the power of this digital decade by empowering them with the path to success, at their fingertips.
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