Ban on ride sharing services
Only the riders know how efficient and affordable services Pathao and Tootle have been providing. You only have to have an app in your android mobile, you can track where they are and you can call them to pick you. Within minutes of placing demand for service in the app, taxis and motorbikes come up to your doorsteps. They take you where you have to go and they charge very reasonable fare for the service. Ride sharing services like Pathao and Tootle have become popular among young and adults alike for the same reason. Besides, hundreds of youths, most of them college goers, have found in it a source of earning for educational expenses. But the government does not seem to be comfortable with affordable and reliable services these youths are providing to the people. In January, a number of Tootle and Pathao riders were arrested by police who claimed that these services were not legally registered. Only when the general public staged a series of protests against the police action, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli intervened to allow the use of ride hailing services. The government agencies are at it again. Recent case in point is government ban on the use of private vehicles for public transport.
On Tuesday, Department of Transport Management (DoTM) issued a public notice not to use private vehicles for public transport and threatened to take action against those violating the ban. Yes, Motor Vehicles and Transportation Management Act 1993 allows for such action. It states that private motor vehicles cannot be used for public transport services and the vehicles registered for one purpose cannot be used for another purpose. That may be valid from the government’s perspective. But look at the other side of the argument, from the perspective of the companies operating ride hailing apps. The government ban amounts to nothing less than an action to discourage innovation in business. Granted Pathao and Tootle have issues. One of them was found to have evaded tax. Not all service providers were properly registered with the government. In that situation, the government should introduce regulations and make them abide by those regulations.
If there are safety issues, the government needs to think how they can be addressed. But to ban popular ride-sharing services altogether smacks of ill intention. Pathao and Tootle services had come as a welcome relief to the highhandedness from the taxi drivers. As such they were not happy with these services because they were affecting their business and income. Nepal’s taxi services are outrageously passenger-unfriendly. Ask the taxi to go to your destination and they will demand exorbitantly high amount of charge or simply refuse to start the car for you. Ride sharing services had in a way broken their monopoly. Thus the government needs to come up with the plans to regulate this service if there is any issue. Make them pay tax, introduce the regulations and make them follow the regulations but do not kill innovation in business, which Tootle and Pathao have tried and were becoming successful and popular. The government should revoke the ban and give the message that it welcomes innovation in business from youths.