Transport cartels and syndicates

Destroy them

Published On: May 6, 2018 01:01 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Nepal’s public transport syndicate and cartels have become increasingly ruthless toward the general public since April. They crippled transportation along the Araniko Highway simply because Mayur Yatayat, another transportation company, was providing better services to the people at lower fare. As many as 11 committees of transport cartels had not only halted their services, they also vandalized some of Mayur’s buses and threatened to prohibit the company from carrying out its services.

When the government dealt them with iron fist, granting temporary route permits to 25 vehicles belonging to five different transport companies to operate along the Kathmandu-Banepa route, warning of revoking route permits of the buses belonging to the cartels if they did not resume services, introducing a new Transport Management Directive whereby newcomers are not required to produce recommendation from the existing transport committees to get route permits, they threatened to stage stronger protests, including bringing transportation service to a halt across the country. They have lived up to this warning. 

On Friday, they brought the transportation service across the country to a grinding halt causing great inconvenience to the public. Hundreds and thousands of people were stranded. In Kathmandu, people had to rely on few buses belonging to Sajha Yatayat and other such service providers for commute. Many were seen taking lift on motorbikes or private cars to reach their destinations.

The government has rightly taken action against them. On Friday, Ministry of Home Affairs arrested transport entrepreneurs including vice-chairman and general secretary of Federation of Nepali National Transport Entrepreneurs Association. The Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa directed concerned authorities to arrest the office bearers of the transport committees for disrupting vehicular movements. Further, the government has decided to freeze bank accounts of the members of syndicates and start money laundering investigation. But there is a fear that they will not relent yet, for they have strong nexus.  

However, there is another side to this story. All forms of syndicates and cartels in both private and public sectors have thrived because of open patronage and protection from the political parties—including those in the government now. In the past they allowed them to disregard country’s laws. We are facing the consequence now. Thus for the government crackdown in transport and syndicate cartels to succeed both ruling as well as opposition parties should immediately stop providing them protection and take strong action against them. One way of doing this could be by allowing more transport services like Sajha and Mahanagar to operate across the country.

The other way is through strong preparedness on the part of the government. For example, the government had promised to provide services to the people by mobilizing vehicles belonging to government institutions, including Nepal Police and Nepal Army. This did not happen.

The government should not spare any measure to dismantle syndicates and cartels in public transport. It must not bow down to any threat. There is huge public support against syndicates and cartels at the moment. This fight against them must succeed. On their part, transport entrepreneurs must be ready to play according to the rulebook of the state. They can go about defying the laws at the cost of their own peril.

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