Nepal | August 04, 2020

Transport entrepreneurs seek resumption of services

Himalayan News Service
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KATHMANDU, JULY 1

Transport entrepreneurs have said that if the government does not allow resumption of public transport services soon, they will have to take to the streets like the taxi entrepreneurs have been doing.

After meeting Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Basanta Kumar Nembang today, the transport entrepreneurs also expressed commitment to adopt all possible precautionary measures against spread of coronavirus if public vehicles are allowed to operate.

A team including Yogendra Nath Karmacharya, president of Federation of Nepali Transport Entrepreneurs, met the secretary of the ministry and Minister Nembang and put forward their demands.

Submitting a memorandum, the team said that the prolonged lockdown has affected the public transport sector badly.

In response, Minister Nembang assured that necessary guidelines were being prepared to operate public transport in coordination with the concerned stakeholders.

According to Karmacharya, more than four million public vehicles have been parked in garages since the lockdown began.

“Millions have been rendered jobless, while banks are haggling investors to pay their instalments.”

The transport entrepreneurs today implored Minister Nembang to consider the hardships facing the sector and alleged that the current situation was due to the government apathy.

Karmacharya said that they have demanded with the minister to suspend the loan instalment of public transport vehicles, review the interest rate, provide refinance facility, exempt taxes and renew the route permits, among others.

According to the federation, around Rs 100 billion has been invested in public transport, of which Rs 70 billion have been invested by banks and financial institutions.

Karmacharya said that the loan instalment should be deferred for one year to save public transport.

He said that should the public transport sector collapse, its repercussions would be felt in all sectors, including banking. “We are still hopeful that the government will address our concerns, but in case that does not happen, we will have no other choice than to protest.”

Entrepreneurs have also said that they will not be able to operate their vehicles by following the guidelines prepared by Department of Transport Management.

“We won’t even be able to recover the fuel charge by operating vehicles with 50 per cent occupancy,” said Karmacharya.

Currently, the Department of Transport Management is preparing guidelines to operate public transport safely after the lockdown. This includes maintaining a social distance among passengers, using sanitisers and masks, among others.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 2, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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