THT 10 years ago: Taxi meter tampering cases on rise in Valley

Kathmandu, January 23, 2007

Lack of awareness among consumers about their rights and regular checking by traffic police have led to an increase in the number of taxi meter tampering cases in the Valley. A local of Gairidhara, Shaileshwori Sharma, said: “I usually travel from my friend’s house at Kalikasthan to Ghairidhara in a taxi and I am usually charged between Rs 50 to Rs 55.

But recently I had to pay Rs 70 for the same distance ‘without traffic obstruction’. When I asked the driver whether his meter was correct he furiously asked me to pay the fare and leave the taxi. I did as he told because I had no other options.” Around 7,500 taxis are registered under the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology (NBSM).

Sita Ram Joshi, chief inspector at the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology, said that the people “do not complain when they are cheated”. He said that they “are planning to put eight hoarding boards displaying taxi fares for public awareness”.

The Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology is awaiting official notice about the recent verdict issued by the Supreme Court that has directed taxi drivers to have a printing machine to provide each customer with a printed bill. Plans are afoot to put hoarding boards at eight different places of the Valley describing taxi fares, Joshi added.

According to Jyoti Baniya, general secretary of the Forum for Consumers’ Rights, the drivers tamper taxi meters by fixing sensor wires in cassette players, sidelights and horns.

Saraswoti Puja marked with gusto

Saraswoti Puja, also known as the Basant Panchami, was celebrated throughout the nation by organising various programmes today. King Gyanendra visited Hanuman Dhoka Durbar today at 9:45 am for Basanta Shravan (chant welcoming the spring) as part of the festival to welcome the new season.

Satya Mohan Joshi, a cultural expert, said: “The festival is celebrated according to the lunar calendar marking Panchami.” He said the day is believed to be so auspicious that any sort of ritual performed on the day is thought to bring out positive results. From dawn, people gathered at the temples of goddess Saraswoti in the Valley.

Swyambhu, Maitidevi, Nil Saraswoti and other temples of the goddess were filled with people. Small children are taught to learn their first alphabet on the occasion. Shyam Kapali was with his 18-month-old son Sameer at Maitidevi Temple to start his formal education today.

He said: “I am here with my son as people say children will become intelligent in their academic life if their education starts from the day of Saraswoti Puja.” Schools, colleges educational and music institutions celebrated the day by performing puja of the goddess, books, musical instruments and teachers.