Digitizing Pakistan’s Road Freight Industry

February 9, 2022

By Saadat Yar

In Pakistan, a gap exists between shippers and truckers which remains unresolved. Along major highways, a common sight is a truck driver resting underneath a truck seeking respite from scorching heat. His agony is magnified by having to wait patiently for his broker to confirm his freight load. At the same time, a shipper has his movements delayed and he wonders who to hold accountable; he is seeking transparency but gets no visibility of his goods in transit to different parts of the country.

Pakistan has more than a hundred thousand truckers; life is a challenge for them as they visit their homes merely twice or thrice a year. A life spent on the roads leads to an unremitting loneliness, discomfort and unrelenting. These are the ordeals faced by truckers, who carry goods worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in a 26 Billion US Dollars annual market. And needless to say that kids in Pakistan do not grow up aspiring to be truckers.

Shippers are faced with structural challenges. Across the journey of road freight, there are loopholes in key nodes including sea ports, dry ports, manufacturing, agriculture, and livestock. Key themes including HSE compliance, transparency, avoidance of in-transit theft, and timely delivery do not get the attention they deserve. Together, these challenges contribute to costing 1 Billion US dollars per annum, impacting more than 3 Million small businesses. Further, intermediaries, with concentration of influence, have entrenched inefficient practices that have cost shippers and truckers dearly. The need for efficiency, and digital transformation to elevate the lives of shippers and truckers enabled the conception of Truck It In. The future is bright and on the road.

“The opportunity ahead is massive and it can be done; now is the right time. Technology is being leveraged to solve deep rooted challenges with-in the economy. Road freight needs to be simplified and be more accessible,” was the unanimous agreement of the cofounders while discussing the idea for the maiden time in June of 2020. The passion to create impact enabled them to quit their highflying careers during the peak of the first wave of Covid-19 and a few weeks later, they landed in Karachi, with an excitement to eradicate challenges of contemporary trucking industry. The team reminisces about that time fondly, “We landed in Karachi in August, and monsoon was there to greet us. The city was inundated with rain; we braved the treacherous weather and got to Maripur wet to the bone. This projected a little inkling of challenges ahead; but we were hopeful of a fun journey.”

The journey ahead proved that the opportunity and team were a good fit. It began with exclusive focus on inter-city longhaul fulfillment – the commercial and operations teams hustling day and night to create impact and make lives simple for shippers and truckers. We saw good traction which enabled us to expand our footprint to major industrial hubs across Pakistan as well as launching intra-city operations. Over the course of few months, Truck It In has scaled quickly to become a preferred partner offering reliable and efficient services.

The product was made from the ground up to solve the dilemmas faced by shippers and truckers. The journey, like all parameters in a startup, involves a steep learning curve and the product has already been through a major redesign in October, 2021 to add value in the lives of our users. Driving forces here continue to be rich feedback from shippers and truckers with an acute focus on simplicity and ease of use. To diffuse the technology and reach end users, we delivered multiple trainings and set up support desks across the country.

Shippers have benefitted from increased transparency through our bidding platform and having status updates during the trip journey.  The industries benefiting from this have expanded to include Fertilizer, Steel, Cement, Agriculture and FMCGs. This has enabled us to grow our business by 37x in 2021 and create the largest road freight marketplace of Pakistan.  

Outstanding experienced and young talented individuals have come together to make this vision a reality. They have undergone a trial by fire, learning and unlearning on the job. The team which consisted of only 10 colleagues in August 2020 now boasts more than 200 people spread across Pakistan delighting shippers and truckers. The team solves challenges everyday and is helped by making a diverse and inclusive workforce around age, gender, education, languages and regions.

We have just taken our first steps in bringing about this transformation. We are ready to face the challenges ahead as we strive to bring improvements into the lives of shippers and truckers. “Our existence is predicated on improving the lives of truckers, enabling them to earn more, and lead better lives. We are enabling shippers to have greater transparency, higher efficiency and improving their supply chains. The change that we are bringing will be transformative for our society,” the co-founders vowed during the recent strategy meeting.

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