Department of transport recommends new provisions for ride-sharing sectorRide-sharing companies urge the government to hold dialogue in order to bring proper provision and set proper criteria.
The Department of Transport Management has sent a letter to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Management, proposing some provisions be included in the ride-sharing sector.
The key points in the letter include amendments to the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act, 2049 (1993).
“The act needs to be amended in order to make ride-sharing service through private vehicle legal in Nepal,” Kumar Prasad Dahal, director general of the department, told the Post. “We have also recommended that the ride-sharing companies should mandatorily have an insurance policy for rider and pillion.”
According to the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act, private vehicles should not be used for transport service.
On January 14 and 15, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division had enforced a crackdown on motorcycles that were providing ride-sharing services, following complaints from taxi drivers, citing that it was against the law.
However, a couple of days later, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli instructed the Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister Raghubir Mahaseth to not ban ride-sharing services.
According to ride-sharing service providers, they had not been able to bring insurance schemes as they have been termed illegal by the law.
“If the government amends the law and allows us to provide service legally, we will implement proper insurance schemes for both the rider and the service seeker,” Asheem Basnyat, Pathao’s regional director, told the Post.
Tootle’s co-founder Sixit Bhatta echoed Basnyat. “Once we are termed legal by the country’s laws, we will bring the insurance scheme,” said Bhatta.
Other recommendations in the letter sent by the department say vehicles associated with ride-sharing service should have black number plates (like public vehicles), and that vehicles should have horsepower more than or equal to 125 cc.
“If the vehicles are found not following the criteria, they will not be allowed to provide the service,” said Dahal.
However, ride-sharing companies have said the department’s two recommendations are inappropriate. “Either the government is unaware of what ride-sharing means or it is a deliberate attempt to affect the service,” Bhatta told the Post. “The provision of having a black number plate is like asking someone who has rented his/her house to register it as a hotel.”
According to ride-sharing companies, riders will not agree to having a black number plate, since the service they provide is not permanent.
“Ridesharing is not done by public vehicles because their duty is to provide public transport. Private vehicles are not bound to provide their services all the time. They will not accept this,” said Basnyat. Companies like Tootle and Pathao have a user base of around 800,000 clients and nearly 35,000 riders.
Similarly, the companies have said the criteria regarding the horsepower of the vehicle is also unnecessary. “We want slower vehicles to provide services, as they are safer and have more efficiency. Vehicles with horsepower more than 125 cc are faster,” said Bhatta.
According to ministry officials, the prevailing act is being amended. “We are amending the previous act. In the new act, we will have the necessary provisions for the ride-sharing service. The department’s recommendation will also be studied,” Rajeshwor Gyawali, spokesperson of the ministry, told the Post.
Meanwhile, ride-sharing companies have suggested the government call them for talks regarding the formulation of the act.
“If the government could hold discussions with concerned stakeholders, we could keep our points and visions. We could also share our views over what the new law should address in ride-sharing service so that proper criteria and provisions can be set,” said Basnyat.
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