Nepal | August 08, 2020

Public transport reopens gradually in valley

Himalayan News Service
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Almost four months after the government halted public transportation service to curb the spread of coronavirus, some transport operators have started resuming services within the Kathmandu valley.

The government had finally decided on July 9 to allow the operation of public vehicles within respective districts and inside Kathmandu valley. Amid the widespread protest from the public transport operators against the government for not letting them operate vehicles, the Cabinet meeting had decided to allow them to resume public transportation along short routes across the country.

After the government allowed resumption of public transport service, Mayur Yatayat — a public transport company — started its service on Monday with limited number of buses despite a call from the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs not to resume service until their demands are met.

Dipak Bhandari, one of the proprietors of Mayur Yatayat, said that they have resumed their services by following every guideline and instruction given by the government related to maintaining physical distancing and other precautionary measures.

Similarly, Sajha Yatayat has also decided to resume its services within the Kathmandu valley but the date has no been fixed yet. “We are ready to start limited services in the valley within the next few days and we will maintain all the health guidelines issued by the government,” Kanak Mani Dixit, chairman of Sajha Yatayat, tweeted.

“We can’t wait more to get back on the roads to serve our passengers,” he added.

Meanwhile, the government has informed that the public transportation fare will be up by 50 per cent until the COVID-19 situation becomes normal.

Bhandari further said the management of Mayur Yatayat has given strict instructions to the staff to follow the government rules and make necessary arrangements for the public. “Our staff will strictly follow given safety instructions.”

However, a majority of transport entrepreneurs have decided not to resume services until the government addresses the demands that they have put forth. They have urged the government to provide tax waivers, direct banks to restructure their loans and assist them with the implementation of safety precautions in public transport vehicles.

“Meanwhile, transport operators that have resumed services are scared that if the number of COV- ID-19 positive cases rise in Kathmandu they might not receive sufficient number of passengers,” said Bhandari. “We’ll stop our service if passenger numbers are low and we can’t manage our operating cost.”

Earlier, while announcing the resumption of public transportation, the government had instructed transport operators to comply with safety norms, including physical spacing on the seats; use of masks, visors and gloves by the driver and driver’s assistant; installation of sanitiser dispensers; and disinfection of vehicles once a day.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 15, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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