Kathmandu, April 8

The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) has directed all its regional and district-level offices to open vehicle route permits across the country.

Citing that issuance of new vehicle route permits across necessary road routes in the country is necessary to control transport syndicate, Rupnarayan Bhattarai, director general of DoTM said, “The government will welcome new interested transport companies in any routes to cater transportation services.”

Syndicate system is illegal in any sector, including transportation. But this anti-competitive practice in Nepal's transportation industry is so strong that no government till date has been able to get rid of it.

However, the government is getting stricter against syndicate in the transportation industry since the last few weeks especially after transporters disallowed vehicles of new transport companies, which were given vehicle route permits, to ply on different roads across the country.

“The law has clearly discouraged syndicate system in the transportation industry and any attempts to practice such anti-competitive behaviour is illegal,” said Bhattarai, adding roads in Nepal are open to all.

Moreover, Bhattarai informed that government will not only cancel vehicle route permits of those transporters promoting transport syndicate, but will also take departmental action against those DoTM officials who dilly-dally in issuing route permits to new transport firms.

The government had previously been issuing vehicle route permits to transporters on the basis of recommendation of different transport associations and committees.

With an intention to end syndicate system in transportation sector, DoTM had recently issued route permit to Mayur Yatayat along Araniko Highway. Moreover, government is also preparing to issue vehicle route permit to new transport firms to run big public buses in Kathmandu Valley.

Bhattarai also warned that registration licences of those transport associations and committees, who are actively lobbying for syndicate, will be scrapped if they are found disallowing new transport companies in the transportation industry and protesting against government's move to allow vehicle route permits to new companies.

DoTM has recently amended Transport Management Directive of 2004 and introduced a provision whereby government will issue new vehicle route permits to public vehicles of only those transport firms registered at the DoTM.

Meanwhile, consumer rights activists have welcomed DoTM's aggressiveness to end syndicate in the transportation industry. “Syndicate system is not only affecting the competitive growth of transportation industry, but is also affecting commuters. The government should take strong action against those who are involved in promoting syndicate,” said Madhav Timalsina, president of Consumers' Right Investigation Forum.

On the other hand, transporters have been saying that issuance of vehicle route permits to new firms in an unplanned manner will negatively affect Nepal's transportation industry.