July 5: The country’s transportation sector has been mired in various troubles due to the government’s indifference to formulate concrete work procedures to resume the public transport.
Though, the government has permitted private vehicles to ply on roads, it is yet to allow operation of public vehicles. Transport entrepreneurs say that due to prolonged lockdown, they have not been able to pay installment of bank loans. Similarly, adding to the mounting losses of transport entrepreneurs is damages to vehicles due to non-operation for long time.
According to Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE), there are around 200,000 vehicles across in the public transportation sector currently with total investment of around Rs 10 billion employing more than 50,00,000 people. According to Saroj Sitaula, general secretary of FNNTE, the government must be serious about plights faced by transport entrepreneurs, workers and the general public. “The government needs to come up with work procedures as soon as possible to allow operation of public transport by implementing necessary health safety measures,” he said.
Transport company operators argue that the current situation cannot go forever as damages to vehicles due to keeping idle for long has added to their expenses. Currently, 72 buses of Sajha Yatayat have been parked at the garage. Two buses are now operating at the airport. According to Bhusan Tuladhar, executive director of Sajha Yatayat, the buses need to be repaired. “It is obvious for vehicles to get damaged because of non-operation for long,” he said, “However, we are yet to study about the damages.” Citing examples of other countries where public transportation has resumed after the easing of the lockdown, Tuladhar mentioned that is not difficult to operate public buses by maintaining health safety measures.
Mayur Yatayat has also parked its 44 buses. “The government should provide relief to the transport sector. It should have provided us with concessions on interest on loans and extension of loan repayment schedul. But we cannot expect relief measures at the moment as the people in the politics are busy in power struggle,” expressed Mohan Shrestha, chairman of Mayur Yatayat.
Though transport entrepreneur have talked to ministers and other high officials for multiple times over the last few weeks, the government has not decided on the module of operation of public vehicles.
According to FNNTE General Secretary Sitaula, the government has not started working anything regarding the resumption of public transport though the entrepreneurs provided their suggestions in written and verbal forms. “We are in official and unofficial discussions with vehicle owners and transport sector workers. Now we are preparing to put pressure on the government for resumption of public transport,” he said.