Nepal | September 28, 2020

Police halt home delivery service, arrest staff

‘First they held our delivery boy and then they came to arrest me. Other operators also in custody’

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Nepal Police arrested several e-commerce entrepreneurs, including more than 20 delivery persons, yesterday, stating that home delivery services were against prohibitory orders issued by the District Administration Office, Kathmandu, on August 26. The orders, which were first issued on August 19, will remain in force till September 2.

Staff of a Kathmandu-based restaurant detained by Nepal Police at Durbar Marg, in Kathmandu, on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Photo courtesy: Alok Yonzan

During this period, several e-commerce companies had been providing home delivery services of household stuff, food items, vegetables and medicines, among other goods. Besides arresting delivery persons, police also took the respective company’s operators under control.

“A police van arrived at my place at around 4:00 pm and police personnel asked me to accompany them, stating that our company had conducted home delivery services, violating the law,” said Samita Ojha, founder of Sasto Mela. “First they held our delivery boy and then they came to arrest me.

Other e-commerce entrepreneurs were also in custody,” she added.

Today too, Sasto Mela tried to deliver goods before 9:30 am. However, police detained a delivery boy.

Nepal Police Office at Tinkune has stated that home delivery services have not been mentioned as essential services in the prohibitory orders issued by the DAO, while entrepreneurs claim that they were delivering essential goods.

“Even during the lockdown period we delivered goods to consumers without any obstacle from the administration, but now the police say it is against the law,” Ojha told THT. “The order has to clearly mention that home delivery services of essential goods are not allowed. Moreover, we have not been delivering any unnecessary goods. All our deliveries are household items and medical supplies,” she added.

Instead of promoting e-commerce, the administration seems to be demotivating this new global business practice, she rued.

Meanwhile, Amun Thapa, founder of Sasto Deal, said the young e-commerce entrepreneurs were putting their lives at risk to serve the people and it was shameful on the part of Nepal Police to randomly arrest them without any proper notice or reasoning. He added that the entrepreneurs should not be punished for the lack of coordination between the CDO office and Nepal Police.

“Just a few days back, we had talked to officials at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies regarding our service and the latter had said we could operate the same,” said Nikita Acharya, founder of UG Cake. According to her, she too was taken to the police station and confined for three hours.

“Instead of arresting us, they could have asked us to stop our services from the next day,” said Acharya. “We now have to suddenly halt our services and cancel all the orders, though most of the orders have already been paid for,” she added. “The police could have dealt with this in a better way as we were delivering essential items.”

In one example of the inconvenience that consumers had to suffer, Prazone Maharjan received a call from Daraz online this morning informing him that his order — which included food items, masks and sanitiser — had been cancelled.

“Home delivery service had somehow made our life easier and it is one of the best options to avoid the crowd at shops in the morning,” he said, adding, “Also, not all people have access to a market or shops close to their homes or some might not be able to go out due to a medical condition or because they have children at home. So, halting the service, I feel, is not a very wise decision.”

He added that the government could have introduced some rules and allowed the service to continue.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting it to allow home delivery services.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 29, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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