KATHMANDU, April 18: In a bold move against organized transport syndicates, the government on Tuesday decided not to renew any 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 operate public transport services. It also allows new entrepreneurs to enter the transport market without being hassled by the already organized transportation committees.
A cabinet meeting held at Singha Durbar took the decision to this effect.
“We decided on this step to completely end the syndicates. Now onward, the district administration offices will not renew the transportation committees, and this will give newcomers a chance to enter the market,” said Minister for General Administration Lalbabu Pandit.
The decision comes at a time when transportation enterprises were all set to announce a general strike against the government’s tough stance.
Soon after the government decision, the Ministry of Home Affairs instructed DAOs not to renew the transportation committees. Issuing a press statement, MoHA spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi instructed the authorities to halt without further delay the renewal of transportation committees registered under the Association Registration Act.
The law mandates the government to instruct local authorities to scrap or suspend the registration of any organization obstructing public services and violating government instructions. Also, the law has defined the transportation sector as an essential service and this allows the government to suspend the registration of committees if they move toward halting essential services.
MoHA has warned organizations and individuals of stern action and fines if they are found involved in supporting the transportation cartels.
Although the government made several moves in the past also to dismantle transport cartels, the syndicates had prevailed in the end.
The government’s renewed pledge to dismantle the syndicates nationwide came about recently after the syndicates obstructed newly-introduced Mayur Yayatat Transportation from plying the Araniko Highway. The incident mobilised support for dismantling the cartels, following which the Oli government took a series of moves for the same.
In the wake of the latest development, transport committees across the country have joined hands and vowed not to cave in. Five major transport federations including Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE) are set to announce a joint protest on Wednesday. The other transport organizations include Federation of Truck Tanker & Transport Entrepreneurs, Nepal Petroleum Transportation Association and Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association.
“The constitution guarantees people the right to organize. Therefore, the government’s move to dismantle transport committees is against the spirit of the constitution,” said Bijay Bahadur Swar, vice chairman of FNNTE, an umbrella body of transport entrepreneurs that has long been protecting the syndicates.