Government, agitating drivers ink deal to resume transportation services

Published On: September 22, 2018 08:42 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 22: The government and agitating public transport workers have inked a deal, paving the way for the resumption of transportation service which was disrupted for the last three days.

Following the eight-point deal signed with the government at Singha Durbar on Friday, the agitating Nepal Independent Transportation Drivers’ Struggle Committee withdrew all its protest programs including the strike that it has imposed from Tuesday. 

With this deal, public vehicles which have remained off the roads since Tuesday will be resumed, according to agitating drivers and government officials. Hundreds of passengers were stranded while the supply of goods including petroleum products was hit in various parts of the country including Kathmandu due to the strike. 

The struggle committee had taken to the streets against the government since Monday and enforced nation-wide strike from Tuesday protesting against some of the proposed amendments in the Vehicle and Transportation Act-2049 that they claim unfairly penalizes them for road accident and casualty.

The eight-point deal includes, among others, a commitment of the government to make an amendment on laws if needed, in coordination with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. 

During discussions for the amendment on legal issues, the government will also include representatives of the committee, according to the deal. 

Those agitating drivers say that they have been unjustly blamed and prosecuted for road accident, and the practice would get severe if the government moved ahead with its amendment plan. 

The deal also includes a point that states that the director general of the Department of Transportation Management, in consultation with the committee’s representatives, will make appropriate recommendation to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation to include a representation of drivers in a committee to investigate into any road accident and carry out a fair probe. 

Leaders of the agitating committee have boasted the agreement to work toward ensuring their representation in the drafting of the report of an accident as their major victory. 

“The protest programs including the strike has now ended with the agreement with the government,” said Basanta Sharma, coordinator of the drivers’ struggle committee. “Along with the commitment to include us on the revision of the amendment proposal, the government has agreed to ensure our representation in the probe of any road accident. Our representation in such probe committee will end the practice to declare the driver culprit in all accidents,” he added. 

Other points in the deal include a gradual arrangement of parking areas for long-route vehicles in the highway and repairing of traffic signs and roads, regular awareness programs for drivers as well as setting up vehicle fitness test centers and release of transport workers arrested during the protest, among others.

The supply of fuel is likely to normalize from Saturday following the withdrawal of the protest by agitating public drivers on Thursday. 

According to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) officials, the supply of fuel, which was disrupted due to the disturbances caused by the agitators during transportation, will ease ‘soon’ as all tankers are being mobilized in ferrying petroleum products including from Indian Oil Corporation’s Raxaul depot. 

The fuel tankers movement was obstructed by the agitators in the last three days, causing the shortage of petroleum products in the petrol stations across the country including Kathmandu. The supply disruption prompted long queues outside petrol stations. In a bid to discourage unnecessary hoarding, the NOC has also announced a rationing of fuel for few days. 

The NOC had limited two-wheelers with five liters, four wheelers with 15 liters and public vehicles with 50 - 100 liters per day on Friday, which will be discontinued from Saturday to allow public to get fuel as per their demands, according to the NOC’s Acting Managing Director Susheel Bhattarai. He said that the NOC will confiscate tankers and mobilize drivers from Nepal Army and other government agencies if drivers refuse to drive tankers now onwards. 

To ease the shortage in the Kathmandu Valley, the NOC’s Thankot depot will supply fuel to the tankers even on Saturday, according to Bhattarai. He said that the NOC and the government agencies will take stern action against drivers who deny driving fuel tankers.


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