Transport entrepreneurs ask government to lift restriction on public transport
June 24, 2021 03:20 PM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 24: The National Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs has asked the government to lift the ban imposed on public vehicles to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
The umbrella organization of transport entrepreneurs across the country made the demand arguing that the prolonged prohibitory orders has left public transport workers high and dry. The government had enforced prohibitory orders after the outbreak of the second wave of the COVID-19 on April 29.
The request from the association is followed after the decisions made by the District Administration Offices in the Kathmandu Valley to allow private vehicles on the road while following the odd-even rule and businesses to open on designated days of the week since June 22. However, the local administration has decided not to lift the restriction on public vehicles.
The transport entrepreneurs have urged the government to allow them to operate their vehicles while following the safety protocols accordingly. Saroj Sitaula, General Secretary of the federation, complained that public transport vehicles are facing the brunt of the problem as private vehicles continue to carry passengers to earn money.
“It is wrong on the part of the government to think that public transport alone would be responsible to transmit the virus of COVID-19 while other businesses and private vehicles are allowed to operate regardless of the pandemic,” Sitaula said. “There should be no delay in opening the public transports while following the odd-even rule and adopting health protocols to save the workers in the transport industry.”
Sitaula said they will be forced to take the streets if the District Administrative Office (DAO) does not give any heeds to our problem. The DAO, Kathmandu had invited members from the transport industry in a meeting held on Wednesday to hold discussion about their issues. However, they were unable to attend the meeting as they had a meeting of their federation on the same day.
Sitaula urged the government to lift the ban on the industry while following the criteria set by the government. “A ban on public transports while private and airlines continue their operation is simply unacceptable,” he said. “We will open the industry by negotiating with the administration as much as possible. But if there is no way out of our problems, there is no alternative but to operate our vehicles regardless of the ban,” he added.
According to Bhim Jwala Rai, Chairman of the Independent Transport Workers Association of Nepal, as many as 1.1 million workers have been facing financial difficulties since May. “The government has always neglected the transport industry,” he said. Rai also accused the government of ignoring the most affected transport workers when it announced reliefs and other facilities to various sectors.