BHAIRAHAWA, Aug 22: After investigations showed that most of the accidents that took place in the past few weeks were caused by overload, authorities in Rupandehi district have banned vehicles from carrying passengers beyond their capacities. In reaction, the transport entrepreneurs have unilaterally hiked transport fares.
Passengers said the buses operating on the Butwal-Bhairahawa route have nearly doubled the fare.
“Just a day before, I was asked to pay Rs 45 instead of the regular fare of Rs 25. The fare is too expensive for 10 kilometers travel from Bhairahawa to Bhalawari. However, we have no choice,” said Sita Regmi, a local.
A microbus driver, who wished to be unnamed, said it is not possible to make a living if they carry passengers only according to the seating capacity. “The price of fuel is also expensive. So we have no choice,” he said.
Police Inspector Aankaj Koirala, chief of District Traffic Police Office, Bhairahawa, said they would take stern action against the vehicles that are found demanding higher fares. “We urge everyone to complaint with the local police if any vehicle is found demanding more fare than what is fixed by the government. After receiving a complaint, we will make such vehicle operator return any additional fare to the passenger and take action against such operator,” he said.
According to him, police have intensified monitoring.
Meanwhile, Narayan Ghimire, acting chairman of Butwal chapter of West Nepal Bus Entrepreneurs Association said it is wrong to hike transport fares, and added that he will investigate the matter.
He, however, criticized the government for not attempting to make their policies rational. “If two or four passengers are found travelling standing in a microbus along Butwal-Bhairahawa stretch, it cannot be considered overload. The government and transport entrepreneurs need to discuss the issue,” he added.