Truck entrepreneurs put the blame on government

Kathmandu, May 28 :

Federation of Truck-Tanker and Transport Entrepreneurs Nepal (FTTEN) has asked the government to set up standards for quality and reliable transportation, ensuring healthy competition.

It has also refuted the allegations of ‘syndicating the surface transport system’ by truck and tanker entrepreneurs, saying that a token (queue) system was introduced to promote fair and equal opportunities to all.

FTTEN introduced the token system and fixed the freight charge at Rs 15,000 per 10 metric tonne load on Birgunj-Kathmandu and Bhairahawa-Kathmandu routes with effect from May 21, citing hike in operation costs due to skyrocketing petroleum prices.

“The token system is not a cartel or syndicate,” claimed Shree Chandra Sharma, general secretary at FTTEN, adding that the freight charge was fixed by the past government some four months back and the token system was introduced to avoid unnecessary losses.

“We have been asking the government to fix the standard so that quality and reliable transportation service could be ensured. The token system has been introduced to check unhealthy competition and to discourage unsystematic business practices,” he added.

The transport entrepreneurs are still in loss, despite new freight rate, said Sharma, adding that the freight charge of Rs 15,000 on Birgunj-Kathmandu-Birgunj route was fixed at a time when diesel price was Rs 41 per litre. The price of diesel now stands at Rs 53.

He also claimed that the government has already given nod to fix freight charge up to Rs 15,000 per 10 metric tonne load.

“We are doing our business according to free market economy principles. We want healthy competition for which the government should set up certain parameters,” he said, adding that the main problem is being created by brokers and a handful number of unethical entrepreneurs.

FTTEN has also asked the government to stop imports of new trucks and tankers, saying that the increasing number of trucks is also a reason of present problem. According to an estimation, there are more than 30,000 trucks and tankers in operation throughout the country at present.

The Nepali surface transportation sector for both the passengers and goods is fully managed by the private sector and has already drawn over Rs 40 billion investment.

“The capital utilisation at present is less than 30 per cent against such a huge investment,” said Sharma.