Use ‘n’ throw policy irks Sajha, Trolley men

Chandra Luitel

Lalitpur, March 8:

The Trolley and Sajha buses spring to your service, whenever and whatever the situation but the people do not regard them and their personnel positively. It is only when bandhs bring all private services and vehicles to a halt that people appreciate the value of the Trolley and Sajha services.

To be fair, theirs is the most sincere service, and at the most reasonable prices. Yet, the men who man these services are children of a lesser god.

The Trolley Bus Service runs under Nepal Transportation Corporation, and is providing service since 2032. It is limited to Kathmandu city. On normal days, a Trolley runs in loss. "It is hard to collect even Rs 300 on usual days but come bandhs and the collection rises above Rs 1200," said Ram Lakhan Mehta, Trolley conductor cum technician.

"We work on a daily wage basis, ours is not a formal appointment," driver Lalit Bahadur Bhujel said bitterly. Bhujel said he gets around Rs 142 per day. A Trolley conductor disclosed there is neither insurance facility nor bonus for the staff working on bandh days though there is immense risk to their lives.

"We are thinking of providing insurance facility to the staff," said Ram Prasad Sharma, acting chief of Kathmandu metropolitan

city. During the 2046 movement, Trolley staff were provided with bonus but now they are deprived of it. "We risk our lives to defy the bandh but the officials do not provide us even bonus for the period," said a technician on condition of anonymity.

The Sajha Yatayat Sansthan established under the Cooperative Act in 2018 and which started its service in 2019 is slightly better placed. There are 20 Sajha vehicles running in various parts of the country. "Our motive is to provide service, even at odd hours," said Mukunda Raj Satyal, general manager of Sajha Yatatyat Sanstha.

Traffic chief of SYS Shambu KC stated, "Every Sajha driver is insured for Rs 1,00,000." A Sajha driver, however, told The Himalayan Times, "Insurance amount is very little as the risk is maximum during a bandh." SYS administrative , personnel Mahendra Pandey, " It is we who have to bear the maximum risk."

"Every time there is a bandh, we get phone calls from above to conduct our service at all costs. The moment the bandh is over, we are forgotten...relegated to the dustbin," said a technician on condition of anonymity. Another staff said, "We were provided with bonus during the bandhs of 2046 but we are deprived of even that now."