Transporters call strike in East; Biratnagar air services disrupted

Biratnagar, March 3:

Claiming that their business was affected owing to frequent Tarai region bandhs for the past two months, transport entrepreneurs and workers here obstructed air services at the Biratnagar airport today.

In line with their protest programme to halt vehicular movement and air services in the eastern region, transport entrepreneurs padlocked the main gate of the airport at 11 am.

“An agreement was reached during a meeting between the transport entrepreneurs, workers and representatives of different airlines to halt air services for today and tomorrow,” Giri Raj Basnet, station manager of Buddha Air, said, adding: “Transport entrepreneurs demanded to halt air services for three days here. However, it was agreed upon for two days.”

The meeting was attended by station manager of Yeti Airlines Prem Kunwar, general secretary of the Eastern Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs’ Union Gopal Karki and among others.

“Flights were suspended due to the unfavourable situation,” said Yogendra Raut, chief of the Biratnagar-based Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). The Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) yesterday had withdrawn its chakka jam for three days from today, keeping in view the Holi festival. However, Koshi Zonal Transport Entrepreneurs have called an indefinite strike.

Issuing a joint statement yesterday, different transport organisations had agreed not to ply vehicles until roads are announced a peace zone.

“The transport sector is compelled to bear the brunt of all kinds of strikes. We announced the movement as a protest,” said Prakash Bartaula, eastern regional chairman of Nepal Transport Workers’ Union.

According to CAAN sources, two flights of Yeti Airlines and one of Buddha Air landed in Biratnagar airport from the capital today. Other flights, however, were suspended. Flights in hilly districts of the eastern region were also affected today. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Biratnagar airport. Traffic in Siraha and Saptari also stayed off the road as Sagarmatha Bus Entrepreneurs’ Union continued the chhakkajam, ignoring the MJF’s decision.