Nepal | July 07, 2020

Public transport entrepreneurs seek government support for survival

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The Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs Association (FNNTE) has said that the government has to establish a fund for the survival of workers and entrepreneurs involved in the public transport sector.

As per the federation, around 50 per cent of workers are vehicle owners themselves and the other 50 per cent has hired staffs. Amid this, the lockdown has created difficulties for their survival, it stated.

“Not all vehicle owners are rich enough to handle this crisis. Most of them are barely being able to manage their daily bread,” said Bijay Swar, vice president of the federation.

He further said that there is investment worth around Rs 100 billion in the public transportation sector of which 70 per cent is loans. Moreover, the industry is unlikely to get back to normal even six months after services can be resumed. Hence, the government has to arrange a fund from which the workers can receive some amount for their survival, Swar added.

“Even after the public vehicle service resumes we have to maintain social distance due to which it will be difficult for us to earn enough for our survival.

Moreover, vehicle maintenance cost is going to bother the owners most,” he said.

“After the resumption of public vehicle service we have to service our vehicles and spare parts will be required for the maintenance works for which we will have to spend a lot of money,” Swar said.

As per him, the fund is especially necessary for owners and workers of small vehicles.

“It is difficult to maintain distance as said by the government in micro buses and tempos,” he said, “Their daily earning is important for their survival hence, carrying fewer number of passengers in order to maintain social distancing will create more problems for them.” According to Swar, around 1.2 million workers are directly involved in public vehicle services.

“We may opt to raise transportation fare to recover our losses but it will not be wise to take such a decision,” he said, adding, “So for public convenience as well the government has to pay us for our survival.”

Amid this, the Department of Transportation Management has drafted a framework to resume and regulate public vehicle services post lockdown.

As per the department, discussions with the stakeholders are ongoing over the framework. As per the draft, public vehicles inside the valley will be resumed in the first phase. However, no decision has been taken yet as to when public transport service will resume.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 17, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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