More people leaving Kathmandu valley

Kathmandu, March 19

Kathmandu denizens, specially school and college students, have started leaving for their home towns after the government decided to shut down all academic institutions until April 12 as a measure to contain possible spread of novel coronavirus. As people are leaving the capital city en masse the demand for bus and air tickets has soared.

Talking to THT today, over a dozen private companies, which operate 50 to 100 public buses on a daily basis said over 90 per cent of tickets of their night buses were sold out. The companies based in Sundhara, Old Bus Park and New Bus Park also said pre-booking for tomorrow was almost completed and a few tickets were left for the day after tomorrow.

They said majority of those who had booked tickets were school and college students while some were parents of the students.

Dilli Bhusal, a member of Western Nepal Bus Entrepreneur’s Association, which operates 107 public buses in western Nepal said number of passengers has dramatically surged from this afternoon. Until a few weeks ago they used to operate less than 20 vehicles per day due to lack of passengers, but more than 50 buses were readied for service tonight. “Almost 90 per cent of the total seats in our night buses that leave Kathmandu were booked by students,” Bhusal said.

Normally, around 300 public buses leave Kathmandu valley for various destinations across the country on a daily basis.

Police Inspector Santosh Dahal, in-charge of Old Buspark said, “Today’s booking rate shows that the number of public buses leaving Kathmandu valley is likely to cross 500 tomorrow.”

Latika Joshi, 18, a Grade XII student at a school in Old Baneshwor, who was spotted in Sundhara along with her friends and family members said she was having hard time to find a bus ticket for tomorrow morning to travel to her home town, Kanchanpur. She said, “Since the school is closed and the fear of catching coronavirus is high in city area like Kathmandu we have decided to leave Kathmandu and return to our homes with parents.”

Sangbo Sherpa, 24, spotted at Old Bus Park, who is a bouncer working at a club in Kathmandu said he was travelling back to his hometown, Sindhupalchowk after the club business was hit forcing it to shut down temporarily from today onwards. “Since the government has asked to shut down clubs and as the number of customers declined sharply, the owners have decided to close the club and granted us leave. So, I decided to travell to my hometown to meet parents,” said Sherpa.

Domestic airline companies, which had suffered due to lack of passengers in the past couple of weeks due to the COVID-19 threat, witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of passengers today.

Authorities of major airline companies like Yeti Airlines, Buddha Air and Tara Air said booking rate for today and the next two days is almost 100 per cent.

The airline companies have also added number of flights to meet the increased demand.

Rupesh Joshi, director of Buddha Air said, “There has been a drastic increase in the number of passengers, who are travelling out of the valley for the next two days.”

With increased demand for air tickets, airfare has also increased substantially since yesterday. Balaram Timalsina of Seti Travel and Tours in Sundhara said the airfare has doubled today compared to past few weeks. According to Timalsina, one way air fare for Kathmandu to Dhangadi, which cost Rs 4,000 to 6,000 until a few weeks ago, was being sold at Rs 12,700 today. Similarly, one way air fare from Kathmandu to Biratnager, which cost Rs 2,200 to Rs 3,800, earlier was sold at Rs 7,550 today.