Market rationing ineffective, traders call new rule impractical


Despite the valley’s District Administration Offices’ directive to allow business to reopen only on certain days and for certain hours, traders in major city areas have started operating the service in full fledged manner.

The DAO’s of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur, after imposing the three-week long strict prohibition order, had agreed to relax the restrictions from last Thursday onwards. It had also issued rules for certain businesses to open at certain time. The traders, however, calling the rule ‘impractical’ have started operating their businesses in full swing.

As per the rule, shopping malls, garment and cosmetic shops are allowed to open only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Restaurants were not allowed to reopen to the public as they were supposed to only provide home delivery services.

Similarly, street vendors, stationery shops, electronic shops and departmental stores are allowed to open up to 11:00am in the morning and 4:00pm to 7:00pm in the evening.

Despite the rule, almost all shops were open during the day time in New Road and Mahabouddha area, one of the busiest business areas in the capital.

Rahesh Ranjit, a watch maker in the New Road area said that it was not possible to open and shut down the shutter two times a day. “How can we open the shop twice a day, while I have to come all the way from Kalanki to open the shop. It’s an impractical rule imposed by the government.”

Auchyut Adhikari, who owns a wholesale fancy dress shop at Mahabouddha, said, “The government is simply turning deaf ears to our demands.

We cannot shut our businesses and take risk despite the coronavirus pandemic.”

With business resuming in the city areas, Kathmandu streets have already started seeing traffic jams, especially during office hours. Public vehicles rationing system, however, is being implemented efficiently, and not many public vehicles can be seen in the streets.

But, odd-even rule, especially for motorbikes, has not been effectively implemented. Thus, many people are seen around New road, Baneshwor, Jawalakhel, Teku, Kalanki, Balaju, Maharajgunj, Chabahil, Koteshwor in large numbers. The businesses in these areas are being operated like pre-COVID times.

The businessmen are confident that if the flow of people increases their business will flourish. While the traders are excited about reopening businesses, social distancing norms are largely violated. This has also increased the threat of the virus spread at the community level as Kathmandu valley has already started seeing normally above 500 cases each day.

The authorities concerned are also in a dilemma about the situation as they urge the general public to be aware about the situation and stay safe on their own.

Kathmandu’s Chief District Officer Janak Raj Dahal said, “We cannot please all the people at present. We lifted the prohibition order after complaints from the public, but this also received criticism from many others. In the present situation, we suggest that the public adopt safety measures and stay away from crowds.”

Feature Image: File

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 14, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.