Government asks bus operators to start ticket pre-booking for Dashain from next weekBut operators insist there is no need as fewer people will be leaving the Valley this Dashain.
The Department of Transport Management has asked public transport operators to open ticket reservations from the end of next week (Thursday or Friday) targeting the passengers leaving the Kathmandu Valley for the upcoming Dashain festival.
Transport operators, however, seem reluctant to open pre-booking of long-route bus tickets this time as they don’t expect a large number of people leaving the Valley this Dashain due to pandemic fears.
“This year also we have no plans to open pre-booking because we think not many people will leave the Valley owing to virus fears,” said Yogendra Karmacharya, president of Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs.
Ghatasthapana, which marks the start of the 10-day Dashain festival falls this year on October 7.
Namaraj Ghimire, director general at the department, said his office asked transport operators to open pre-booking at a meeting last week.
“The matter has also been discussed with the Prime Minister’s Office,” said Ghimire. “We will hold further discussion, because sending people home safely to their families during Dashain is our concern,” said Ghimire.
Karmacharya of the transport federation, however, says, with just 35 percent of buses in operation and most of them running below their carrying capacity, he doesn’t see the need for opening pre-booking of tickets.
“And many people who had left for their hometowns due to the pandemic have not returned to Kathmandu,” said Karmacharya.
Just before the prohibitory orders were imposed in Kathmandu on April 29 after the second wave of Covid-19, a large number of people had left the Valley. The traffic police report showed an estimated 500,000 people had left the Valley just before the prohibitory orders were imposed.
While Karmacharya is of the view that not many people will be leaving the Capital this Dashain, Ghimire, the director general at the transport department, says it does not matter how many people leave the Valley.
“With the pre-booking service, people can travel without any hassles of having to scramble for bus tickets in the final hours,” he said.
Very few people had travelled to their hometowns during last year’s Dashain because of Covid-19 fears although the government had resumed the long-haul transportation after nearly nine months from the third week of September last year.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, until 2019, over 3 million people used to leave the Valley during Dashain; the number had come down significantly during last year’s Dashain.
“These days an average of 6,000 people leave the Kathmandu Valley daily, and most of the buses have many empty seats. I don’t think there will be many people leaving the Capital for Dashin because of the coronavirus fears,” said Sanjib Sharma Das, superintendent of police and the spokesperson at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
Das, however, said that opening the ticket pre-booking service would make it easier for those passengers who intend to visit their hometowns for the festival.
“We are holding a meeting this week to decide when to open the ticket pre-booking for Dashain travellers,” he said.