"Where is Minister Bista?" angry service seekers ask

KATHMANDU: 30-year-old Basanta Basnet, a migrant worker, went to the Department of Foreign Employment to renew his work permit on Wednesday and was sent off citing a long queue of service seekers. Basnet was at the office again on Thursday at 6:00 am in the morning. However, he had not been able to renew his permit till afternoon.

Not only Basnet but scores of migrant workers who arrived in Nepal to celebrate the festivals and renew their work permits share the same plight as the Department takes two days to provide a basic service such as permit renewal.

People arrive at the gates of the Department early in the morning in hopes of acquiring service and return to their residences with all but a token to queue for service the following day.

According to a service seeker, "The Department has few employees processing files at renewal counter and can only distribute a meager 600 tokens per day."

However, scores of service seekers who had queued in front of the department gates for more than four hours expressed utter discontent over efficiency of service delivery and asked, "Where is Labor Minister Gokarna Bista and What is he doing?"

Moreover, despite implementation of federal setup and formation of ministries at provincial level, people from all 77 districts have to visit DoFE at Tahachal in Kathmandu to acquire even basic service such as a permit renewal.

This begs the question, when will public service seekers stop suffering hassles?

Moreover, presence of middle men and corrupt employees at public offices have added to the plight of innocent service seekers.

A travel agent who assists migrant workers in filling up forms near the department office in the condition of anonymity said that employees and middle men have forged an alliance and those service seekers willing to abide to their financial terms enjoy a faster service. In this backdrop, the agent concluded that corruption has also contributed to the suffering of service seekers.

"This is too much. We are paying money to acquire a service and do we deserve to be treated like this?" asked a service seeker who had been in the queue for four hours, "The department should hire more employees or set up more offices."

Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista did not respond to THT's call immediately.