Police claim to have taken action against 4,891cabbies in the past six months
Kathmandu, January 12
Despite police claim of taking action against a large number of taxi drivers, who refused to provide service by turning fare-meter on, and fleeced passengers by charging fare arbitrarily, people in Kathmandu valley hardly get chance to travel in a taxi with meter turned on.
Metropolitan Traffic Police Division claimed it took action against 4,891 errant taxi drivers in the past six months for refusing to turn on meter, as per the complaints from general public. In 2018-19, police had taken action against 4,298 errant cabbies.
But, the police action seems to have no deterrent impact on cabbies as the number of cabbies violating rules is continuously on the rise. All cabbies inside the Ring Road and maximum two kilometres outside the Ring Road are required to provide service on fare-meter, but very few taxi drivers are found following the rule.
Out of the 12 taxi drivers THT inquired today around Anamnagar, Putalisadak, Bagbazaar, Bhrikuti Mandap and around Bir Hospital area, only one agreed to provide service with the fare-meter turned on.
Taxi drivers refused to go to areas such as Satdobato, Balaju Bypass, Lukunthali on fare-meter. Most of the taxi drivers upon request to turn on the fare-meter either asked for additional Rs 150 to 200 or refused to do so.
Traffic Police, who promise to take immediate action against such taxi drivers, are helpless. Superintendent of Police Jeevan Kumar Shrestha at MTPD said the traffic police were ready to support the public and make the taxi drivers follow the rules. Traffic police, in a bid to control errant cabbies, have started a ‘how much operation’ since September 2015. The operation is focused on taking action against those taxi drivers who refuse to turn on fare-meter. Traffic police record since September 2015 showed that a total of 42,719 taxi drivers were booked on the same charge. There are around 11,000 taxis operating inside the Kathmandu valley currently. The record showed that one taxi was fined for at least 3.8 times on an average during the period.
Taxi drivers, however, express grievances as they say the existing meter-fare fixed by the government cannot support their livelihood anymore.
Arjun Gautam, central member of Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs Association said the existing meter-fare was almost 10 years old. “In these years, market inflation has grown over two folds, taxi’s market price has increased by three folds and so is the situation of spare parts. With ever-growing market price we cannot provide services as per 10 years old rules.” As per the rule, every taxi meter begins with Rs 39 once people book it, and additional Rs 14 is charged for each kilometre.
A version of this article appears in print on January 13, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.