Kathmandu, December 22
Keshab Kunwar, 25, who had to take his ailing father from Bir Hospital to Lokanthali, decided to book a cab, but the cabbie said it would cost him Rs 900. The distance from Bir Hospital to Lokanthali is around 10 kilometres, for which normal charges should be around Rs 250 to Rs 300. This shows how cabbies in Kathmandu valley blatantly fleece commuters.
There were exactly 15 cabs in front of Bir Hospital at around 4:00 pm this evening. Keshab tried to book one to take his father home after being discharged from the hospital, but not a single taxi driver agreed to go to his destination on fare-meter. Keshab was thus compelled to pay three times the normal charges.
All the cabbies in Kathmandu valley are required to provide service on fare-meter, but very few are found doing so. When the correspondent reached Bir Hospital, Ratna Park and Bhrikuti Mandap, none of the taxi drivers agreed to provide service on fare-meter.
Traffic Police had launched a special operation to make the cabs systematic in Kathmandu valley a few months ago, but in vain. During the operation, cabbies were found operating taxis without the mandatory computer billing system, seal on fare-meters, and tampering with and using defunct fare-meters. They had also overcharged the passengers and refused to provide service on fare-meters for short distances.
Head of Traffic Police Senior Superintendent of Police Basanta Kumar Panta said to make cabs systematic, commuter must play an important role and those who got cheated by taxi drivers should immediately report to the traffic police. “Many people in the valley do not even know about how to file a complaint against fraudulent cabbies,” he added.
He also claimed that traffic police booked around 80 to 100 taxi drivers in a day on an average for refusing to provide service on fare-meter.
A taxi driver, Khirendra Shrestha, 28, said that lack of taxi parking lots in Kathmandu valley had compelled them to charge extra from passengers. He also said that they had to waste more fuel in search of parking lot and if they did not take extra charge they would have to bear loss.
SSP Panta, however, said no taxi drivers could charge extra for whatsoever reason. According to traffic police, there are around 10,500 registered taxis in Kathmandu valley. However, there are only 400 taxi stands.
A version of this article appears in print on December 23, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.