Provide safe corridor

Life in Nepal these days is synonymous with bandhs, protests, rallies and violence. Although the organisers of these programmes say their aim is to pressurise those in command to accede to the demands of the former, there, however, has been an undeserved victim: the common people who have been forced to live with exorbitant price hikes of essential commodities. The suspension of transport services since last Friday has caused tremendous hardship to both the passengers and the business community, besides the consumers in the capital city who are now tackling a severe shortage of milk, fuel and meat in addition to other essential and non-essential commodities. Even the price of cement and steel has shot up in recent months, thanks again to frequent chakka jams. The import and export industry has also been forced to bear recurrent losses due to similar hurdles. Its 40-odd freight trucks that used to depart the Valley on a normal day have been grounded too. And there is little sign of an early end to the ordeal.

The transport entrepreneurs have their own reasons. Their cargo carriers have been set on fire several times and say the government failed to provide them with compensation. Understandably nobody would want their property being gutted, far less in return for nothing. And it would be foolhardy to expect the vehicles to ply under insecure conditions. It goes without saying the standoff will have disastrous consequences. A halt in traffic throws thousands of people, who rely on the transport system to eke out a living, out of business. The economics of goods scarcity and increase in price aside, people are compelled to cough up an extra amount in addition to accepting depletion in their earnings. This, therefore, leaves the common man to bear the brunt of the impact; the government will only be facing indirect ramifications. The myth that dharnas and strikes will ever bring the powers-that-be to their knees without hurting the people can, therefore, be safely discarded. Those in the transport sector too are dictated by the need to work for a living. Beyond that, being rendered a soft target is not the fault of those driving the vehicles. Because chakka jams throw the daily life out of gear and is a cause for undue concern for the common man at large, the organisers of the protest programmes must provide a safe corridor to public vehicles. A halt in the transport sector grinds other industries like tourism and hotel to a standstill. Setting fire to cargo trucks and passenger buses do not succeed in winning the sympathy of the people. Freight carriers must not be made the target of the protestors.