Private cars drive taxis away from BhaktapurAn estimated 400 private second-hand cars and vans are being operated in Dudhpati, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Kamalbinayak, Thimi and Sallaghari.
Taxi drivers in Bhaktapur have repeatedly complained of the private car owners’ syndicate in transporting passengers, which have curtailed their daily earnings. Despite the complaints, the government has turned a blind eye to the drivers’ concerns.
Every day the entry gate of Bhaktapur Durbar Square in Dudhpati sees a line of more than three dozen private cars waiting for passengers. Similar is the scene at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Kamalbinayak, Thimi, Sallaghari, Suryabinayak and Gatthaghar. It is estimated that more than 400 such cars and vans are illegally operating in these areas.
If one has to go to Nagarkot or Dhulikhel, they cannot get a taxi while private Suzuki cars are easily available to rent, Bhaktapur residents say.
“This is a syndicate of locals. They are operating their private cars as taxis. They do not let us park in those areas. Still, the local authority has not shown any concern over our repeated complaints. The authority has permitted them to run those cars illegally,” said Jeevan Lama, 47, a taxi driver based in Sallaghari.
The Motor Vehicles and Transportation Management Act-1993 does not allow the operation of private vehicles for purposes other than specified. In the third week of November, the government issued a second notice in a bid to stop popular ride-sharing services. But, after widespread criticism, the government backtracked on its decision.
“They buy an old car and operate it as a taxi, and they have been earning good money illegally. There is no one to monitor them,” said Lama, who is the sole breadwinner of a seven-member family. “If we take passengers to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, we have to return empty, because private car owners won’t let us carry new passengers.”
Taxi drivers complain that they can’t stop for passengers in Dudhpati, Suryabinayak and other areas as the local car owners chase them out.
When the Post approached private car operators to inquire why they were running their cars as taxis, many said tourists are their only source of income. “I bought this car with Rs300,000, taking a loan as I don’t have any land. And this is feeding my family,” said Rajindra Chawala, a residence of Bansa Gopal Chowk, who was parking his car a few meters east of Siddha Pokhari.
Chawala said he has been into this business for more than a decade. “In my case, I am doing this as I don’t have an alternative, but there are some rich people too, who are using their cars to ferry passengers and are making good money.”
When the Post contacted Inspector Hari Om Khadka, in charge of the Sallaghari Traffic Police Circle, regarding the illegal use of private cars, he said the police have been cracking down on them. “We have nabbed them many times. We slap them with Rs 1,000 fines, but they do it repeatedly. We don’t have enough traffic officials to monitor the area,” said Khadka.
When the Post contacted Senior Superintendent Bhim Prasad Dhakal, chief of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, he said personnel would be deployed immediately to look into the issue of illegal taxi operators.