Transport workers’ strike hits eastern region hard

Jhapa, August 14:

The transport strike enforced by transport workers in the eastern region has hit people of the region hard. Prices of daily food items have soared.

Before the strike, vegetables and fruits produced in hilly districts of the east, including Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung and Terhathum used to be supplied in different parts of the country through Birtamod-based Agriculture Product Market. With the transport strike, the supply of fruits has come to a halt.

In Dhankuta, farmers protested the strike by piling hundreds of metric tonnes of tomatoes in Guthitar along the Dharan-Dhankuta road section of the Koshi highway. They said they could not supply tomatoes to Belhara’s Guthitar-based collection centre because of the strike. The strike has also affected supply of vegetables and milk produced from Dhankuta’s Sindhuwa and surrounding areas.

Our Rajbiraj correspondent reports that the strike has affected preparations for Rakchhyabandhan festival in the Tarai region. Vegetable prices have doubled after the strike.

Due to the strike, more than 100 loaded trucks and 20 night buses have been stuck

on the roads in Itahari. Hundreds of passengers have been stranded. Most school buses have stopped plying the eastern region for want of petroleum products. Half of educational institutions have remained shut.

Demanding Rs 1 million in compensation for the family of bus driver Krishna Khawas, who was recently killed by dacoits, transport workers have been staging a strike. The agitators said the strike had been called in other zones as well after talks held in the Home Ministry last evening were inconclusive. Coordinator of the Struggle Committee in Koshi zone Gauri Lama said the strike would be enforced in the Narayani zone from tomorrow.

Meanwhile, general secretary of Nepal Transport Free Worker’s Organisation Bidur Karki, president of All Nepal Transport Workers’ Organisation Jagat Simkhada and president of Nepal Transport Worker’s Organisation Ajaya Rai issued a statement today and agreed to give continuity to the strike in the eastern region. The release said they would enforce a nationwide transport strike from August 24 if their demands were not met.

The strike organisers have vandalised at least five vehicles in Dharan, Itahari, Biratnagar and Jhapa on the charge of defying the strike. Agitating transport workers staged demonstrations in the eastern region today.