Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth (seated, center) addresses a press conference Monday at Singha Durbar to make public Sunday’s agreement reached between the government and bus operators. Photo: Dipesh Shrestha/Republica
KATHMANDU, May 8: Public transport operators are now demanding ‘unlimited insurance’ to meet the additional cost of treatment for injured passengers or third party damages, on top of coverage by insurance policies.
With the official end of transport syndicates from Sunday, transport entrepreneurs are demanding that the government compensate for additional losses and damages through accidents on top of whatever is covered by the insurance policies.
They say that hereafter they won’t meet the additional costs on top of insurance coverage because the committees of bus entrepreneurs that they were associated with exist no longer.
The insurance policies cover the treatment for up to Rs 300,000 for each passenger (but not for passengers in excess of the maximum seat capacity) and for any third party injuries. The policies also cover compensation of Rs 500,000 on each passenger death (again within maximum seat capacity) or third person death.
Dharma Raj Rimal, in-charge of the Federation of Nepali National Transport Entrepreneurs in Province 3, said that they cannot cover the additional costs of treatment because the accounts of all 245 committees have been frozen by the government. The accounts were frozen in a bid to control the cartels. Each bus operator pays a certain amount of levy to the bus entrepreneurs’ committees each month and these committees claim that they are paying for damages not covered by the insurance policies.
Government officials say that discussions on the question of additional coverage for losses are underway. Tulsi Ram Aryal, spokesperson of the Department of Transport Management, said that they will reach a conclusion soon.
Insurance companies and officials of Beema Samiti, the insurance regulatory body, are not clear about this matter. But they are of the view that insurance coverage can be expanded up to a limit.
Deep Prakash Pandey, CEO of Shikhar Insurance Co Ltd said that unlimited insurance is not possible but the current limit can be reviewed.
“A lot of homework is needed for expanding loss coverage as well as for making the costs of hospital services public so that we can foresee treatment costs for passengers and third party individuals,” said Sunil Panta, CEO of NLG Insurance Company Limited.
According to the insurance companies, the fluctuating cost of hospital services is their main concern. “Premiums for policies should be based on the claims paid by the insurance companies,” added Panta.
Insurance policy covering treatment of up to Rs 300,000 of an injured passenger or a third party individual and compensation of Rs 500,000 for each dead person came into implementation from 2016.
During a press meet at Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport on Monday, bus operators threatened not to respond to accidents. “It is the duty of bus operators to respond to accidents first, bring the injured to hospital and also inform the insurance companies,” informed Aryal of the Department of Transport Management.