Transport bosses cite bad roads for not fielding enought buses
KATHMANDU, Oct 3: Following lack of cooperation from transport entrepreneurs, the government on Sunday decided to operate its own vehicles for the convenience of people who are heading out of Kathmandu Valley to celebrate the Dashain festival.
Although Dashain has already begun, transport entrepreneurs have not brought enough vehicles into operation and this has resulted in rampant blackmarketing in tickets. As many people who wish to go outside the Valley find that they have been left in the lurch, the authorities have felt compelled to decide on the use of government-owned vehicles to ease the ongoing transportation crunch, according to an official at the Department of Transport Management.
In response to the severity of the problem, a meeting was held at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Sunday, under the coordination of Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi. Officials from the Home Ministry, Ministry of General Administration, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, the Nepal Army and Nepal Police were present at the meeting.
The meeting decided to instruct the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to operate government buses to ease transport during the ongoing Dashain and other upcoming festivals.
The meeting instructed Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak to ensure the smooth movement of passengers and remove all existing hurdles through coordination with the army, the armed police and various governmental bodies.
The meeting decided to operate vehicles belonging to government agencies both inside and outside the Valley, reads a press release issued by the office. The office has entrusted the Ministry of General Administration with responsibility for managing the government vehicles for operation inside the Valley.
Transport entrepreneurs, however, denied the charge of non-cooperation leveled against them. “We are being accused of operating transport syndicates. In reality, we are unable to supply a sufficient number of vehicles due to the bad condition of the roads,” said Bijay Bahadur Swar, senior vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE). “The bad roads leave us unable to open bookings for additional seats as no entrepreneur can ensure the timely return of passernger buses headed out of the Valley,” he added.
With Dashain ferver on the rise, around 80,000 people are leaving the Valley on a daily basis for various parts of the country, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) Lokendra Malla, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Traffic Division. FNNTE expects the number to rise to over 200,000 per day as Bijayadashami, the main day of Dashain, nears.
“We are operating all the buses at our disposal to accomodate passengers headed out of the Valley. Although we operate about 1,000 buses a day normally, we are currently operating 3,350 to accommodate the growing demand,” Swar claimed. The demand for tickets rises significantly after Fulpati, which is now just six days away.
Last year, many people couldn't leave the capital for their home districts due to a lack of transportation caused by the Indian fuel blockade. Many of them are travelling to their villages this year, contributing to a significant increase in the demand for tickets. Swar estimates that some two million people will leave the Valley during Dashain.
Acknowledging that they have received complaints from passengers, Swar urged all passengers in difficulties to approach the help desks that have been set up in various places. However, passengers said the help desks are not systematic.