KATHMANDU, Dec 16: The Supreme Court has issued a mandamus order to the government to take necessary steps to end all syndicates in public transport.
A division bench of Justices Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Sinha on Thursday ordered the government to form a high level probe committee to investigate syndication in the public transportation sector.
Giving its final ruling on a writ petition filed by advocate and consumer rights activist Jyoti Baniya, the apex court ordered the government to form a committee to study the effect of syndicates on public transport fares, the route permit system and the incidence of road accidents. The bench has also asked the government to implement the recommendations of the committee and abolish all syndicates in public transport.
This is the third time the court has order an end to syndicates and cartels in the transport sector. However, the government has not been executing the court orders in earnest.
In view of this, the court has asked the government to submit a report through the Judgment Execution Directorate on the progress achieved regarding execution of the court order.
Baniya had filed the writ petition on behalf of the Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights on December 14, 2014. He argued that syndicates in public transport have snuffed out the possibility of competitive fares. In the petition, he also argued that syndicates are the reason behind the growing number of road accidents.
The apex court has said that constraining the free market and exercising monopoly could not be legal and asked the government to end all vestiges of syndication from the transportation sector.
Earlier also, the apex court had issued two separate orders to the government-- one a decade ago and another some eight years back -- to end all syndicates in transportation.
The court order comes at a time when the government is preparing to amend the existing laws and end all syndicates but is facing strong pressure from transportation service operators.
According to traffic police, more than 1,800 people loose their lives on the roads every year. More than 20,000 Nepalis died in road accidents in the last 10 years.
The monetary losses due to road accidents every year amount to about Rs 4 billion and more than 50 percent of accidents in the hill areas are due to the poor condition of the buses run by syndicates.