Government issues a second notice asking to stop ride-sharing servicesOperators call it a ridiculous move, saying the government is fearful of technology.
The government, which had backtracked on its earlier decision to ban ride-sharing services, has issued a fresh order, instructing not to use private vehicles for purposes other than specified.
Previously, in January, the government had barred ride-sharing services, but after widespread criticism from the public, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had instructed not to bar the services.
The Department of Transport Management on Wednesday published a notice, calling the move ‘Urgent’ on its website. The notice states that based on the Transport Management Act 1993, no private vehicles can be used for purposes other than they have been registered for. It also says that the notice is published after it received complaints and that the government will penalise rule violators according to the existing laws.
“Nobody is above the law, either the law has to be amended or it has to be followed,” said Gagan Bahadur Hamal, the director-general of the department.
When asked why the government could not introduce a new law in more than eight months, he said the government is in the process of amending the law.
“Until the new rule comes into force, the older one has to be followed,” said Hamal.
The ride-sharing companies in the country, Tootle and Pathao, have criticised the government’s move.
“This is a ridiculous idea. This innovative service has been implemented all over the world. Instead of improving the service provided by public vehicles, the government is hurting those who have generated job opportunities for thousands of youths,” said Shashank Shumsher Thapa, assistant manager of Pathao, a Bangladeshi aggregator of cabs and two-wheelers.
Pathao started its service in Nepal in September last year. It has more than 30,000 riders and serves some 500,000 people in Kathmandu Valley daily.
Thapa said his company was established after fulfilling all government procedures. “Now it is trying to ban us and our services by showing outdated loopholes in the law,” alleged Thapa.
In mid-January, traffic police in Kathmandu had impounded and fined five motorcyclists who were associated with ride-hailing service providers. But after PM Oli’s intervention, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division had stopped the practice.
The division chief, SSP Bhim Prasad Dhakal, told the Post that his office has not received any formal letter from the department on the latest decision.
“We are just an agency that implements the government's decision,” said Dhakal.
Sixit Bhatta, co-founder of Tootle, questioned the government’s move to bar services that benefit thousands of people.
“It’s been over two years that we have been providing our services and the government, all of a sudden, comes with such an announcement,” he said.
Ride-sharing has become popular in Kathmandu as they are cheaper, quicker and convenient than taxis and passenger vehicles.
The ride-sharing service has also become a source of income for many people, including persons with disabilities.