KATHMANDU, Sept 24: More than a dozen student unions including a sister organization of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have demanded that the government withdraw the decision to allow a 50 percent hike in long-route public transportation fare.
Submitting a memorandum to the Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transportation (MoPIT) Basanta Kumar Nembang on Thursday, 13 student unions including the All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU) — the student wing of the main ruling NCP — have warned that they would launch protest programs if their demand to roll back the increased fare is not met within seven days.
The memorandum is signed by the leaders of 13 student unions including ANNFSU’s Coordinator Ain Mahar and Rajib Dhungana, president of Nepal Students Union, the student wing of the main opposition party, Nepali Congress.
Lifting nearly a six-month long lockdown, the government recently decided to allow the operation of public transportation including long-route bus services since last Thursday. While restricting public vehicles from carrying more than 50 percent passengers of the total capacity, the government also decided to raise the transportation fare by 50 percent.
Immediately after the decision, the student unions had opposed the fare hike and urged the government to withdraw it.
Leaders of the student unions now say that they have decided to give the government an ultimatum and take to the streets to pressurize the authority for lowering the fare.
In their memorandum, the agitated student unions have said that public vehicles are collecting double fare while carrying passengers in full capacity.
“Students who had gone to their homes cannot return to their campuses and universities by paying double fare due to COVID,” reads the memorandum. “To create an environment for students to return to their campuses and universities to study and appear in exams, we demand the immediate scrapping of the increased fare for long-haul buses and strictly enforce student concession in short-route public transportation services,” added the memorandum, warning that they will launch protest programs if their demand is not fulfilled within seven days.