Nepal | May 29, 2020

EDITORIAL: In right gear

The Himalayan Times
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Government’s new rule to drive off the syndicate system, which has been the bane of country’s transport sector, is a welcome move

The government has vowed to take stern action against those transport operators who promote syndicate system. Amending the Transport Management Act 2004, the government has introduced a new rule as per which new vehicle route permits will be issued to public vehicles of only those transport companies that are registered at the Department of Transport Management (DoTM). This is a major departure from the earlier provision as per which the government was issuing vehicle route permits to transporters on the basis of the recommendation of different transport associations and committees. The government move is expected to discourage, and ultimately abolish, the syndicate system in the country’s transport sector. The rule comes on the heels of a row between transport companies and Mayur Yatayat over plying the Araniko Highway route.

Nepal’s public transport system has long been plagued by the syndicate system. Different transport associations and committees have for years have held the country’s public transport system hostage. It was quite a preposterous move on the part of the government to issue vehicle route permits to transporters on the basis of the recommendation of different transport associations and committees. This, as a matter of fact, gave the upper hand to those who were protecting the syndicate system. The political patronage the transport associations and committees continued to receive resulted in their highhandedness and unwarranted control over the road. While the syndicate system has discouraged competition, as these “powerful” transport operators often do not hesitate to enforce strikes to make their demands fulfilled, it has deprived the general public of their right to commute safely.

Syndicate system is rife over majority of routes in the country despite the presence of Competition Promotion and Market Protection Act, 2007, which dubs all anti-competitive behaviours illegal. On top of that, the Supreme Court about a decade ago had declared the syndicate-run public transport system illegal. But weak enforcement of the rules helped the syndicate system thrive. The syndicate system undermines the whole idea of the competitive market. The consumers have been on the receiving end of this illegal practice, as they are forced to accept poor services at higher costs. Rupnarayan Bhattarai, director general of DoTM, said on Sunday that the government would enforce the new rule strictly and take stern action against those transporters violating any transport-related laws and practising syndicate system. Enforcement is the key now. Abolition of syndicate system won’t be difficult if all the stakeholders show their strong will. For example, representatives of transport companies last month decided to end syndicate system in Rupandehi district. This has created level playing field for all the operators and ensured better services to travellers. Transport entrepreneurs must have the freedom to choose their own routes, and this through the DoTM – instead of transport associations and committees – is a good move. Syndicate system has been the bane of Nepal’s public transport system for long. The sooner this illegal practice is abolished, the better.

Going local

As local level units function as one of the three tiers of government in the federal structure, they  should also make public their decisions through the Local Gazette. In order to ensure uniformity of the Local Gazette at all local levels, the federal government has recently issued the Procedure on Publication of Local Gazette. The Local Gazette should be published in a prescribed format. The Local Government Operation Act requires the local levels to publish all laws, rules, directives, procedures and standards in the Local Gazette for authenticity and date of their commencement.

The executive officer of a local level unit authenticates the Local Gazette after consulting the legal section of the concerned unit. After anything is published in the Local Gazette, it becomes a legal document of the concerned local level unit. It is required to provide copies of the Local Gazette to the federal government and provincial ministry overseeing the federal and local affairs, information and record keeping centre of the local unit. It should also be published in the local level website. It will provide an easy access for communities to get information about the decisions taken by the local units.


A version of this article appears in print on April 03, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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