KATHMANDU, April 21: The government has informed transport entrepreneurs that there is no option for them but to come under the Company Act as required by a cabinet decision, and claimed that the decision is aimed at ending syndication in public transport.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth and Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa said that the government won't back down from its decision at any cost and that public transportation entrepreneurs should call off their protest programs immediately.
A section of transportation entrepreneurs had gone to Singha Durbar on Friday to urge the ministers to reconsider the government's decision not to renew the permits of transportation committees.
“A group of transportation entrepreneurs had come to meet the home minister and submitted a memorandum requesting the government to withdraw its decision. But the home minister clearly told them that since ending all syndicates is the government's policy, the decision taken in the matter will be firmly implemented,” said Kiran Bhattarai, press coordinator for the home minister, quoting the minister.
Home Minister Thapa asked the entrepreneurs to withdraw their protest programs immediately and support the government decision.
In the memorandum, the entrepreneurs accused the government of taking the decision unilaterally and of trying to favor some business groups.
“Minister Thapa said that the government's decision will benefit all public transportation entrepreneurs and it is not in favor of some business groups,” Bhattarai added.
Home Minister Thapa also said that the government is ready for talks if some genuine concerns need to be addressed. “Otherwise, there was no option but to come under the Company Act by the next three months as per the cabinet decision,” Thapa told the transport entrepreneurs.
Similarly, at a meeting at the transportation ministry, Transportation Minister Mahaseth echoed the home minister. He said that the government amended the Transport Management Directives to make public transportation more effective and that transportation committees had no option but to come under the Company Act within the three-month deadline, according to officials present at the meeting.
Minister Mahaseth said the government will sit for talks only if the entrepreneurs call off their protest programs.
In a bold move, the government on Tuesday decided not to renew any of the transportation committees, which are registered at district administration offices (DAOs). The move forces all transport entrepreneurs to come under the Company Act to be eligible to continue operating public transport services. It also allows new entrepreneurs to enter the transport market without facing any hassles from the existing transportation committees, it is claimed.
Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE), an umbrella organization of transportation entrepreneurs, has already announced a phase-wise program of protests from May 4. The organization has threatened an indefinite strike across the country from May 10 if the government does not withdraw its decision to bring public transportation under the Company Act.
The home minister has already warned organizations and individuals concerned of stern action and fines if they defy the government's decision.