Transport fares old wine in new bottle

Kathmandu, March 9:

Even till today — the fifth day after the government reduced transport fare rates — no public transport association has toed the government directive.

The government claimed to have reduced transport fare rates after the fifth reduction — since October 2008 — in petroleum price cut taking a global cue. Challenging the

government rate, transport entrepreneurs themselves also claimed to have brought a new rate. But commuters are still paying the old fares that were fixed when petroleum prices were touching the sky.

Then, the petrol price was Rs 100 per litre while diesel price was Rs 80. Today, thanks to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), a litre of petrol is Rs 77.50 and a litre of diesel is Rs 55.

“But the transportation fare has not gone down, accordingly,” said Nilkantha Sharma, a resident of Kalanki, who travels to Ratnapark every morning and back home every evening.

What is even more interesting is that this is the third time that public transporters have disobeyed the government-fixed rate in the last six months.

Federation of National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE) is claiming that it obeys the government decision. But, strangely the public transporters are not obeying their own mother organisation’s diktat.

The government had fixed’scientific’ fares for public transport last Thursday on the basis of fuel weight of 35 per cent. FNTE also agreed to reduce fares.

But the travellers are paying the regular fare.. “I found no reduction in fares,” said Ghanshyam Panthi, another regular commuter from Kirtipur

to Ratnapark.

The government has set up Rs 9 as minimum fare for upto 3 km, Rs 10 for upto 4 km, Rs 11 for upto 7 km, Rs 12 for upto 9 km, Rs 13 for upto 12 km, Rs 14 for upto 15 km, Rs 16 for upto 20 km and Rs 18 for upto 25 km.

Not only are Kathmandu denizens being cheated, long-route travellers are also being chaeted by buses and microbuses. “It is due to bandhs that we have not revised the fares,” said

Arjun Kharti, a leader of Nepal Transport Labour Association of Gongabu Bus Terminal (GBT) — from where buses ply to different parts of the country.

However, that cannot be said to be the reason for not reducing fares, passengers countered.

Some of the transporters claimed that FNTE had not circulated the new fare rate chart to them. This also cannot be accepted as the reason for not reducing fares, said Consumer Protection Forum (CPF). Meanwhile, Gyan KC, a member of Bheri Zone Transport Entrepreneurs’ Association said they would comply with the government’s new fare rate chart soon.