Kathmandu, March 29
Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection (DoCSCP) has been receiving around 300 complaints related to lack of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), price hike, and lack of food items in market on a daily basis.
The department said that it has been taking action against erring traders based on the complaints received from the consumers. With an aim to address the issues of the public, the department has also started an online platform to collect complaints from consumers.
Today itself it received 154 complaints via online portal.
“Earlier we were collecting complaints through the toll free number which has not been so effective, hence starting from March 25 the department has started collecting complaints via the online platform,” said Rabindra Acharya, director of DoCSCP. According to him, the department is collecting complaints via Facebook, Viber, Imo, Twitter and also email and SMS services under the Consumer Right Management Information System.
“Through this online platform we have been receiving 200 to 300 complaints each day and we take action based on the importance of the issue,” he said. “If the case is not so serious we generally counsel the consumers and warn the related trader or supplier.”
Of the 154 online complaints received today, a total of nine issues related to LPG were resolved and 48 of them were counselled regarding their complaints. The department is examining the other complaints.
“We will take necessary action after looking at the nature of the complaints,” Acharya added.
The consumers can also track whether their complaints have been addressed or not via online services, Acharya added.
As per him, currently there are three operators to receive calls through the toll free number while eight other officials have been assigned to respond to online complaints.
Meanwhile, lack of human resources has affected the effectiveness of market monitoring, he said. The department has only five divisional offices outside the Valley which do not have such services of collecting complaints and taking action against the wrongdoers.
The complaint collection mechanism is limited to the central office of the department located in Kathmandu.
Moreover, in Kathmandu too the department lacks enough human resources, said Prem Lal Maharjan, president of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights. “Addressing the complaints and solving the problems are more important than collecting complaints,” he said.
“Although the department has started online services to reach out to more consumers DoCSCP still lacks resources to take effective action.”
Maharjan further said that most of the consumers still have complaints that the toll free number is either usually busy or is not received by the concerned authorities. “There are still long queues at gas depots and crowds of people at vegetable and grocery shops,” he said. “This is actually a scary situation and the government has to address this issue immediately as such crowds could spur the spread of the coronavirus.”
As per the department, people are complaining about not getting LPG and grocery items in the market as well as price hike in masks, grocery items, fruits and vegetables.
A version of this article appears in print on March 30, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.
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