Child labour thriving on Ministry premises

Kathmandu, October 19:

The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management, who have been advocating against the employment of child labour in various sectors have failed to implement it in their own premises.

A 15-year-old Binod Lama has been working as a helper in a canteen located on the premises for nearly a year. Lama, a boy who looks younger than his age, said he came to Kathmandu from his village Nuwakot with an acquaintance to work here. His day starts at 6 in the morning and his responsibility includes cleaning dishes, serving food to the respectable rooms in the ministries, which continues till 5 in the evening.

With his earning, Rs 1,500 per month, he supports his family back in Nuwakot. It helps his father who is a farmer and part-time mason to send his younger brothers to attend school. When asked about his interest in continuing his studies, he expressed that it would be difficult for him to pay for rent and attend school. Though he attended upto class two, he could not remember his school’s name.

“I do not find my work difficult as I have leisure to play,” said Binod, adding: “I am better off here than in my village.” Nobody has ever shown their concern to send him back to school.

An official in the MoWCSW, who did not want to be quoted, said: “The boy has not shown any interest to quit the job though we have dissuaded him to discontinue his work in the canteen.” He added that they have also offered him a place in a government-run shelter.

“The Ministry has already formed a committee to address the canteen which has been employing child labour and set up child labour free in-house canteen.”

A canteen owner, whose name is Rukamini Thapa, according to Binod said that they were aware of the government’s policies regarding child labour and the boy is a close relative of him.