Govt’s scheme for quake victims falls flat

  • Over 80 per cent acquirers of new taxi permits have transferred ownership of their cabs

Kathmandu, October 25

Sanu Babu Lamsal, a quake victim from Gorkha, recently transferred the ownership of his cab after acquiring a taxi permit from the government and registering the vehicle at Bagmati Transport Management Office.

Though the government had issued new taxi permits to 1,500 quake survivors, such as Lamsal, through lucky draws held on June 22 and 23 to assist them with their livelihood, Lamsal said he had little choice in transferring the ownership of his cab after he found that the government scheme would actually add financial burden on quake victims instead of assisting them.

“Firstly, we cannot afford to buy these cabs that cost almost Rs 1.6 million. Secondly, it’s impractical for us to shift to Kathmandu Valley from our respective districts to run taxis,” Lamsal said, explaining his decision. He, however, declined to disclose the amount for which he transferred the vehicle ownership.

Lamsal said he would not have transferred the ownership of his taxi if the government had assured him financial sources and market for his taxi.

Sarswoti Bhandari of Kavrepalanchowk is another quake victim who recently transferred the ownership of her taxi after acquiring the permit and registering her cab at the government office. However, Bhandari refused to comment on the issue.

Lamsal and Bhandari represent majority of acquirers of new taxi permits who have been transferring the ownership of their cabs citing problems related to financing and market.

In fact, more than 83 per cent quake victims who have acquired taxi permits from the government have already transferred the ownership of their cabs after getting them registered with the government office.

As per BTMO, more than 1,000 earthquake victims, out of 1,200 who have acquired taxi permits, have already transferred the ownership of their vehicles. Of the total 1,500 taxi permits that the government had issued to quake survivors of 14 districts, 300 permit acquirers are yet to register their taxis at the government office.

Basanta Adhikari, head of Small and Big Vehicles Division at BTMO, said the government was unable to control the trend of quake victims transferring ownership of taxis, as vehicle ownership transfer was legal.

“The government’s taxi permit scheme seems to have been brought without enough groundwork, as it does not seem to have facilitated the quake victims in any way. The scheme neither gave tax waiver facilities on cabs to quake victims nor assured financial sources to them to purchase cabs,” Adhikari said, adding that this had encouraged acquirers of new taxi permits to sell their taxis.

According to Adhikari, earthquake victims have been transferring ownership of their taxis after taking some commission from the new owner.