Reviewed transportation fare yet to be enforced

Kathmandu, February 24

It has been more than a year since the government reviewed public transportation fare. However, the new fare is yet to be implemented in public transport of the country.

On September 10, 2015, the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) had reviewed public transportation fare and fixed minimum charge at Rs 13 (for up to four kilometres) for all local routes in the city areas.

However, as the result of weak monitoring mechanism of the government, commuters in Kathmandu Valley like Niyesh Badal, a resident of Chabahil, have not been able to benefit from the new fare. Badal said he gets charged Rs 18 every day when commuting from Chabahil to New Baneshwor in a public vehicle.

"The government's presence is almost non-existent when it comes to consumer-related issues. Transporters not only overcharge commuters, often times they claim they are short of change to return to passengers," Badal claimed.

The distance from Chabahil to New Baneshwor is roughly four to five kilometres. However, transporters are significantly overcharging commuters though the government-set transport fare for up to four-kilometre distance is Rs 13.

There are hundreds of passengers like Badal who are being overcharged by public transport entrepreneurs.

Amar Karki, another resident of Chabahil, opined that the government should install a device in all public transports that would display the actual distance travelled and the transport fare. "Right now, if anyone asks to see the fare list, transport entrepreneurs often begin to quarrel with the passenger," Karki said.

Madhav Timalsina, a consumer rights activist and the president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum (CRIF), said that transport entrepreneurs are imposing monopoly in transport fare due to weak monitoring from the government side.

"In many consumer-related cases, the government takes decisions but fails to execute it properly. As government seldom inspects public vehicles, which is why transporters have been charging passengers as per their wish," Timalsina alleged.

However, officials of DoTM contended that along with the government, consumers also have to take a proactive role for proper implementation of the revised fare.

"We have a special committee at DoTM to monitor and ensure that passengers using public transportation are not being overcharged. However, we have not been able to monitor the market aggressively due to lack of enough resources," Tok Raj Pandey, spokesperson for DoTM, said. In this context, Pandey said consumers should also be aware while paying fare to transport entrepreneurs and develop a habit of lodging complaints if they are overcharged. "In such cases, we would definitely take action against such transport entrepreneurs."