Transport strike enters sixth day

Biratnagar/Itahari, August 15:

The eastern region wide transport strike entered the sixth day today. The strike was enforced to protest the murder of bus driver Krishna Khawas at the hands of dacoits.

Vehicles remained off the roads in Mechi, Koshi, Sagarmatha and Janakpur zones, affecting hundreds of travellers. The agitating transport workers vandalised four trucks in Biratnagar today and seized 10 trucks in the town, said labour leader Krishna Dhimal.

Agitating transport workers thrashed three transport workers -- Prem Karki, Bikas Rai and Maila -- for defying the strike. The three were critically injured. The strike has hit industrial zone in Sunari and Morang.

Industries have cut down their production after failing to import raw materials and supplying products to the market.

According to Morang Trade Association (MTA), the Morang industrial zone has incurred a loss of over Rs 100 million in six days. Goods worth Rs 40 million, produced by 500 industries, have perished.

Raw materials worth Rs 40 million, imported from third countries, have been lying unclaimed at the Biratnagar customs, chief customs officer Shyam Dahal said. The MTA and Industry Association said the strike has hit industrial bases hard and caused market prices to soar. The Biratnagar customs said 300 trucks laden with raw materials are awaiting clearance at the customs yard.

The strike has caused a shortage of foodgrains and essentials in the hills and the plains.

Per litre price of petrol has soared to Rs 200.

The agitation will be intensified as the government has not promised to meet demands of agitating transport workers, said member-secretary of the agitation committee in Koshi zone Bhim Rai. Talks were held with Labour Minister Ramesh Lekhak after talks with Home Ministry officials, to no avail, said president of the Nepal Transport Free Workers’ Union Moti Raj Sunuwar.

Hundreds of passenger buses heading east from the west have remained stuck in Sunsari’s Bhantabari. Thousands of passengers have been stranded, said deputy superintendent of police at the Sunsari district police office Rupam Lama.

At least 100 trucks have remained stuck in Itahari.

Meanwhile, supporters of the strike vandalised two public vehicles for defying the strike this morning. In Dhankuta, farmers have protested by dumping vegetables on the streets.

In Sankhuwasabha, patients, who were referred to BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences and Koshi Zonal Hospital, have not been able to move out of the district due to the strike. Patients, who were being taken to BPKIHS and KZH from Sankhuwasabha and Bhojpur through Dhankuta’s Leguwa, have been stranded in Chanuwa, said a local, Ganesh Bhandari.