The magazine of the photo-essay
September 2018 issue
Road Ways The Trucks of India
by Lindsay Keats
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
The Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar is India’s largest truck depot located on the Grand Trunk Road in the north of Delhi and is home to dozens of small trucking companies that carry goods all over India. The Drivers are away from their homes for months on end and the Transport Nagar has a reputation for alcohol and drug abuse as well as prostitution. It has been reported that over 20% of drivers are HIV positive. Trucks have a crew of two, a driver, and an assistant driver who will often cook onboard and help with loading and breakdowns as well as dealing with paperwork at the various state borders. Travel is slow, it takes seven days to drive from Delhi to Kolkata, a distance of just 1500km. The work is dangerous. As well as the long hours spent driving, there is the risk of robberies & corrupt border officials. Trucks aren’t allowed to be on the road before 9.00 pm and for the drivers it’s a long 8 hours to get through the Delhi NCP border. The Sanjay Gandhi transport Nagar is also home to coach builders, who work with basic hand tools and use timber and sheet metal to fabricate the truck cabs, also artists who decorate the trucks, mechanics, dhabas  ( very basic restaurants) and chai shops.
A highly decorated truck at the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar.
Drivers resting in their cab.
Driver in cab.
Truck art.
A truckstop dhaba (restaurant).
Truck stop dhaba (restaurant) and some satisfied drivers.
Young children from the nearby slum collect scrap steel.
A Punjabi driver.
A truck drivers son along for the trip. Few children want to follow in their father’s footsteps and become truck drivers.
Crashes are frequent.
Driver and assistant taking a rest before a long night’s drive.
Basic maintenance.
A driver gets a haircut from a roadside barber.
A young mechanic.
Chai Wallah (tea shop) and a customer.
Much of the coach building is done with basic hand tools.
A coach builder working on a new Tata truck.
Not a pleasant or particularly safe place for women.
A well equipped drivers dhaba (restaurant) waiting for evening customers.
Drivers socialising before heading off to their destinations, they are not allowed to be on Delhi roads until after 9.00pm
A driver setting out for the five day drive to Srinigar, Kashmir.
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“Iqbal & Lovely Boy” leaving the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar. Five hours on the road to get through the Delhi (NCP) State Border only 30km away.