Transport strike flopsThe government has scrapped route permits of 26 microbuses plying the Sinamangal-Nepal Airlines Corporation (New Road) route and arrested several protesters, the top official of transport department said on Friday.
The government has scrapped route permits of 26 microbuses plying the Sinamangal-Nepal Airlines Corporation (New Road) route and arrested several protesters, the top official of transport department said on Friday.
Department of Transport Management (DoTM) Director General Rupnarayan Bhattarai said, “The department is preparing a list of public transport operators who participated in the strike despite having route permits. The number of revoked route permits is likely to increase.”
The Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE) on Friday led several public transporters in the nationwide strike. Their strike defies existing law that prohibits such shutdown of essential public services.The government’s crackdown on public transport cartel has triggered the agitation.
The nationwide public transport strike enforced by the cartel on Friday turned into a nightmare for them. Cartel leaders did not anticipate the department’s massive crackdown.“We hit them hard today and arrested striking transporters and cancelled their route permits across the country,” said Bhattarai.
The DoTM spokesperson Tulsi Ram Aryal said the department cancelled permits of some tempos operating along the New Bus Park-Ratnapark route.The department has decided to remove all cartel members’ bus ticket counters at New Bus Park in Kathmandu.“We shall give these open counters to bus companies now. We have already informed Lhotse Multi-Purpose Company, that managed these ticketing counters, to immediately remove these counters,” said Bhattarai.
Following the decision of public transporters to suspend their bus services, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa directed all the District Administration Offices to arrest all involved in the strike. Police detained officials affiliated to various transport committees. In a nationwide crackdown, police arrested striking protesters including FNNTE General Secretary Saroj Sitaula.
Nepal Police personnel deployed from Singha Durbar arrested Sitaula when he arrived for a press conference at the club. Police arrested eight transport operators including the General Secretary of Swargadwari Transport Entrepreneurs’ Committee (STEC) in Pyuthan and Hetauda.
In other parts of eastern Nepal, police arrested nine transport entrepreneurs including Nepal Yatayat Byabasayi Rastriya Mahasangh Vice-chairman Krishna Prasad Subedi and representatives from other transport committees for suspending transport services in Dharan, Sunsari.Long-and short-route vehicles stayed off the roads due to the strike.
They allowed ambulance, private vehicles, motorbikes, taxi and tempos to ply in Sunsari. Police arrested six transport committee representatives in Rautahat district. Tulsi Ram Aryal said the transport strike was a damp squib in eastern part of the country. It had a relatively greater impact in Pokhara and Butwal in western Nepal.
“The strike did affect long routes, especially in western Nepal. There was no impact on short routes,” said Aryal.Citizens and foreign tourists visiting Pokhara and other districts in the region faced difficulties, he said.Prithvi Highway Bus Entrepreneurs’ Committee, Pokhara City Bus, Bindya-basini Bus Entrepreneurs Committee defied the government’s order and took part in the strike.
The strike partially affected life in Kathmandu Valley. Private transport companies continued their services as they had pledged support to government. Private bus companies Mayur Yatayat, Sajha Yatayat, and Annapurna Yatayat operated their vehicles in the valley.
Many private vehicle owners offered free rides to people stranded on the streets. A large number of people, heading to offices and colleges anxiously waited for public vehicles at various bus stops, exposing the government’s response to the strike.Government had planned to ply buses belonging to educational institutions and security forces. “We had thought it would not be necessary. We shall deploy these vehicles if the syndicate shuts down transport services again,” said Aryal.