Dashain travellers face hard times due to rushThe general public has been facing hard times travelling by public transportation this festive season. While the unavailability of gasoline due to the blockade imposed by India has confined a large number of passenger vehicles to their garages, the haphazard ticket prices being charged by transportation entrepreneurs have aggravated the plight of travellers.
The general public has been facing hard times travelling by public transportation this festive season. While the unavailability of gasoline due to the blockade imposed by India has confined a large number of passenger vehicles to their garages, the haphazard ticket prices being charged by transportation entrepreneurs have aggravated the plight of travellers.
“Despite getting assurances from bus operators, we did not get a seat,” said Anita Bharati, a traveller waiting at New Bus Park for a bus to Nepalgunj on Monday. “The bus entrepreneur had promised us two tickets. But they let us down at the last moment. We are clueless about what to do now.”
While male travellers have been able to force their way inside a bus or climb up to its roof, it has been a big problem for women travellers, according to Bharati. Hundreds of travellers waiting for buses at New Bus Park and Kalanki to go home for the festival are in a similar situation.
“It is indeed difficult for travellers,” said Basanta Adhikari, spokesperson at the Department of Transport Management (DoTM). “The number of buses available compared to the rush of travellers is too small.”
According to Adhikari, the DoTM has set up counters at several locations to prevent anomalies, but they have failed to do so. Adhikari added that the government had also given permission to passenger buses to serve routes not included in their permits.
The flow of people will increase significantly from Tuesday. The Dashain holidays for government officials and private sector employees start on Tuesday. This means a large number of people will be streaming out of the Kathmandu Valley starting Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there were 2.5 million departures from Kathmandu during Dashain last year, and around 2 million people are expected to move out this year. Government officials said that around 1.5 million people out of the expected total departures had already left the valley.
“In most cases, bus operators have been found to have overcharged passengers,” said Adhikari, adding that some of the transportation entrepreneurs had converted their public vehicles into reserved buses so they could hire them out for exorbitant rates.
“We are taking note of the situation, and have also penalized a few offenders,” he said. Jeeps plying the Balkhu-Hetauda route, in particular, have been found to be overcharging passengers.
However, transportation entrepreneurs said that the high ticket prices were the result of a crisis situation. “Most bus service operators have been forced to buy gasoline at higher prices. Also, some of the buses that have arrived in Kathmandu from the bordering regions have brought extra fuel with them for the return trip. That is why they have been charging more than usual,” said a transport entrepreneur who wished to remain unnamed.
“You have to realize that transportation operators have been doing all they can to help people reach their homes for the festival.”