In this July 19, 2015 photo, taxi cabs participate in a protest at Ratnapark, Kathmandu against a government decision to phase out old cabs from the capital. Photo: Dinesh Gole/Republica
KATHMANDU, Aug 12: Nepal Meter Taxi Entrepreneurs’ Association (NMTEA), an umbrella organization of registered taxis, is mulling over operating app-based tax services like Pathao and Uber in the capital. Their move comes after Pathao, an app-based ride-hailing service, last week launched its taxi service by including registered cabs and private cars.
NMTEA office-bearers said they are encouraged to launch their own ‘integrated’ taxi service, which will be called ‘Easy Taxi Nepal’ after Pathao faced criticism from customers for charging an additional Rs 100 on top of the fare per user.
“Pathao is cheating both the passengers and taxi drivers. This should be stopped right away,” Arjun Gautam, the president of Nepal Meter Taxi Entrepreneurs’ Association.
Gautam said his association will start a new taxi service similar to Pathao. He demanded that the authorities take action against Pathao for overcharging the customers. “It seems like only the ordinary taxi drivers have to follow the rules and regulations. And those using new technologies and are cheating the public go unpunished. This is not fair,” he said.
Pathao, which had initially started its motorcycle-based ride-hailing service in 2018 launched taxi service from Friday.
Pathao has been charging Rs 100 in addition to the metered fare.
NMTEA has urged its members to boycott Pathao for overcharging costumers.
Surakshya Hamal, marketing manager of Pathao, admitted that the company has been charging Rs 100 in addition to the fare fixed by the government. “Our taxi drivers need to go more than three kilometers to pick up passengers once they request,” Hamal said, trying to justify the additional charge.
Traffic police, however, say they are unaware about the extra money being charged by Pathao.
Basanta Panta, the head of the Metropolitan Traffic Division (MTPD) said it is illegal if Pathao is charging more than the metered fare. “It is illegal to charge more than the government-fixed rate. But I have no idea about Pathao’s service and its fares,” said Panta.
Megh Bahadur Tamang, a taxi driver who joined Pathao last week has already quit the company. “I did not like it because I had to pay the company 15% of my earnings. That is too much,” he said adding, “NMTEA has warned all of us to not join Pathao. NMTEA is soon launching its own app-based ‘Easy Taxi Nepal,’ so I look forward to joining it.”
NMTEA is not happy with Pathao’s taxi service as Pathao has been using both red-number plate cars and black and white number plate cabs.
Kumari Kharel, secretary of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights, said, “We have not received any complaints from NTTEA to date. But if anyone complains, we will process the complaint.