Transporters to reduce fare

Kathmandu, December 16:

Nepal National Transport Entrepreneurs Supreme Federation (NNTESF) — one of the two bodies of transport entrepreneurs — has agreed to cut transport fare according to the government’s recent decision.

Bishnu Siwakoti, president of NNTESF confirmed that they are ready to reduce the fare according to the government decision. “We are entrepreneurs ‘not frauds’ and honour government’s decision,” he replied. Consumers’ Forum and Students unions are blaming the transporters that they are ‘frauds’ because they are not willing to reduce the fare even after the petro-prices came down thrice.

“The federation has, but, asked the government to form a scientific system of fixing fare at the earliest possible,” he said adding that government should take stern action against the entrepreneurs not reducing fare.

Ministry of Labour and Transport Management has reduced the transportation fair for the second time by three per cent in petrol-operated vehicles and six per cent in diesel-operated ones.

However, the earlier decision of fare reduction — by six per cent in diesel operated vehicles and seven per cent in petrol-operated ones — has not yet been implemented, making it to a total reduction of aggregated 10 per cent in petrol-run vehicles and 12 per cent in diesel-run ones.

This is the ‘huge failure’ of the Maoist-led government on its part that the transport entrepreneurs are challenging its decision that directly hits the common people.

However, Lekhraj Bhatta, Minister for Labour and Transport Management is optimistic. “We are taking action against those, who do not implement the new fare structure,” he said today. But in the last 15 days, Department of Transport Management has taken action against around a half dozen taxis to show that it is working.

Taking the global cue, the state oil monopoly — Nepal Oil Corporation — has slashed fuel prices thrice since October 25. But the transport operators have refused to cut fares.

There is also a section under the department where people can register their complaints, if public vehicles charge them more. “But public transporters are still charging commuters old rates,” complained Raju Bajagai, a student, who is not satisfied with the students unions also. “The unions burn tyres and call for chakka jam for petty reasons,” he said adding that its a serious matter and nobody seems to bother.

“The transport entrepreneurs are more powerful than the ministry,” said one official at the ministry without being quoted. “Such is their stranglehold that entrepreneurs arbitrarily hike the fare. They never feel the urge to consult the department,” he added. “But they donot reduce even after government reduce the fare.”

If the transport fares will not go down, the spiralling inflation — that is hovering above 14.5 per cent, according to the Nepal Rastra Bank’s this fiscal year’s fourth month data — has little chance to come down.

The transport ministry and department for reasons best known to it has failed to implement its own decision. And the Consumers’ Forum is preparing to knock the door of the court for the implementation of government’s decision.