Road transport of the country is facing a number of problems. Some of these problems are discussed below:
1. Most of the Indian roads are unsurfaced (42.65%) and are not suitable for use of vehicular traffic. The poor maintenance of the roads aggravates the problem especially in the rainy season.
According to one estimate there is about per year loss of Rs. 200 crores on the wear and tear of the vehicles due to poor quality of roads. Even the National Highways suffer from the deficiencies of inadequate capacity, weak pavement, poor riding quality, distressed bridges, unabridged level crossings, congested cities (lack of by-pass roads), lack of wayside amenities and safety measures.
2. One major problem on the Indian roads is the mixing of traffic. Same road is used by high speed cars, trucks, two wheelers, tractors, animal driven carts, cyclists and even by animals. Even highways are not free from this malady. This increases traffic time, congestion and pollution and road accidents.
3. There are multiple check-posts, toll tax and octoroon duties collection points on the roads which bring down the speed of the traffic, waste time and cause irritation to transporters. Rate of road taxes vary from state to state and inter-state permits are difficult to obtain.
4. Way side amenities like repair shops, first aid centers, telephones, clean toilets, restaurants, rest places are lacking along the Indian roads. There is very little attention on road safety and traffic laws are willfully violated.
5. There is very little participation of private sector in road development in India because of long gestation period and low-returns. The legislative framework for private investment in roads is also not satisfactory. The road engineering and construction are yet to gear themselves up to meet the challenges of the future.
6. There has been no stability in policy relating to highway development in the country. It has changed with the change of government. There are a number of agencies which look after the construction and maintenance of different types of roads. Since there is no co-ordination between these agencies their decisions are often conflicting and contradictory.
7. There is shortage of funds for the construction and maintenance of roads. Instead of giving high priority to this task the percentage allocation has decreased over the years While percentage share of plan allocation was 6.9 per cent in the First Five Year plan it has come down to less than three percent in the Eighth Plan.