Miles to go

Even as Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, in his budget speech, directed transport entrepreneurs to scrap the syndicate system, they continue to charge exorbitant fares from businessmen to ferry goods from one place to another. To make matters worse, political groups and individuals erect barricades on highways in order to extract money from businessmen. This is an open defiance of the government directive. On the other hand, the inability of the government to punish the wrongdoers smacks of administrative laxity. As a result, businessmen are forced to cough up fares 36 times as higher, for instance, on the Khasa-Kathmadu route. Businessmen are reportedly charged as much as 2.5 million rupees to transport a truckload of goods the whole distance of the route. Goods ferried to the capital from southern transit points are charged relatively less.

Businessmen have long complained about the monopoly of truck and container entrepreneurs, which have cost their businesses dearly. Arbitrary transport fares have also led to unreasonable hikes in the prices of basic commodities. However, it is eventually the consumers rather than the businessmen who have to bear the main force of the rip-off. The government must end market monopoly of all sorts in order to make the lives of common people easier. Its much vaunted policies of social and economic reforms are otherwise unlikely to come to fruition.