KATHMANDU, May 6: The government continued its tough action against those imposing syndication in public transport on Saturday as well.
Police arrested five top office bearers including Yogendra Nath Karmacharya, president of Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE), an umbrella body of public transport entrepreneurs committees which has launched protests against the government move aimed at ending cartels in public transport.
A team from the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range arrested FNTE President Karmacharya, Senior Vice-President Bijay Bahadur Suwar, Deputy General Secretary Basanta Bhandari, Treasurer Kiran Kumar Khadka and In-Charge of Province 3 Dharma Raj Rimal while they were reportedly holding meetings with other office bearers of the umbrella organization to devise further programs of protests and finalize agendas for talks with the government to address their demands.
Chief of Metropolitan Police Range Bishwo Raj Pokharel said that the five FNTE office bearers including its president were arrested as part of the government's move to take action against those protesting against the abolition of the transport cartels.
The arrests have come a day after police arrested FNTE vice-president Krishna Prasad Subedi, General Secretary Saroj Sitaula and Deputy Treasurer Dambar Panta including 106 office bearers of the agitating transportation committees and associations from various parts of the country.
In a move to end the public transport syndicate, the government had also decided to scrap route permits of 26 micro buses, freeze the bank accounts maintained in the names of the transport entrepreneurs' committees and associations and also announced to investigate the property of their office bearers on Friday.
Similarly, police on Saturday also arrested three public transportation entrepreneurs in Morang for protesting against the government's decision to bring public transportation under the Companies Act by scraping all the transportation committees which have been maintaining transport cartels.
Following the government's tough action, FNTE, issuing a press statement on Friday, had urged all its affiliates to resume public transportation service across the country from Saturday.
“However, all the public vehicles didn't come into operation on Saturday,” said home ministry spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi.
According to him, some transportation entrepreneurs arrested on Friday were released after they agreed in writing to comply with the new transportation directive. “However, the number of such entrepreneurs is negligible,” he added.
A dialogue has been scheduled between the government and transportation entrepreneurs for Sunday afternoon at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.
“Transport entrepreneurs have no option to coming under the new Companies Act provision. If they agree to comply with the new provision and call off their protests on Sunday talk, the government may not file cases against those arrested for imposing syndication in public transport. Otherwise, the ministry is making preparations to file a case against them under the Essential Services Operation Act-2014,” a source said. The act allows authorities to arrest those disrupting public services and fine them Rs 1,000 or slap them a jail term of six months or both.
The source said that the government is ready to provide additional facilities if the transport entrepreneurs agree to support the government move to end transport cartels by coming under the Companies Act.