Majority of e-rickshaw drivers without driver’s licence in DharanThe number of e-rickshaws operating in the city areas of Sunsari has seen an exponential growth in the past five years.
On Monday night, an e-rickshaw hit 35-year-old Kishor BK, a resident of Deurali in Dharan Ward No. 5, at Shyamchok. BK died during the course of treatment at Dharan-based BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences the same night.
The rickshaw driver—Man Bahadur Limbu of Dharan-15—was found driving the vehicle without a driver’s licence.
The number of e-rickshaws operating in the city areas of Sunsari has seen an exponential growth in the past five years. But a majority of the drivers do not have a driver’s licence, police say.
In cases of road accidents with pedestrian fatalities where the driver does not have a licence, the vehicle owner and driver are liable to legal punishment as vehicular homicide under the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act 1993. The act has provisions for homicide driving with the intention of killing, reckless driving with no intention to kill and accidents not the result of rash driving. The penalty ranges from life imprisonment and confiscation of property to a Rs 500 fine and two years imprisonment.
Limbu was driving under the influence of alcohol when he hit BK, said police. The e-rickshaw belonged to one of Limbu’s relatives who had rented out the vehicle to him.
“The e-rickshaw driven by Limbu has been registered in the Department of Transport Management. As the diver does not have a licence, legal action can be taken according to vehicular homicide,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Area Police Office Gyanendra Basnet.
On Tuesday, police arrested Limbu for further investigation. The District Court in Sunsari has also remanded him into custody for three days.
BK’s family has also lodged a written complaint at the Area Police Office in Dharan demanding stringent action against Limbu. They claimed that Limbu’s reckless driving was the cause behind BK’s death.
As per the existing legal provisions, electric rickshaw drivers should have a licence to drive a three-wheeler. According to Bhuwan Bahadur Khadka, inspector at the District Police Office in Sunsari, the Department of Transport Management provides licence to e-rickshaw drivers under C-1 category.
“We have given authority to the Area Police Office in Dharan to take legal action against the driver,” said Khadka.
Around 40,000 e-rickshaws operate on the streets of Province 1, mostly without fulfilling the due legal process to operate them, said Shyam Kumar Limbu, the information officer at the Transport Management Office in Itahari.
“E-rickshaw drivers should have a licence and road permission under the company model for the operation of their vehicles. But only a few drivers have got licences,” said Shyam Kumar. “Those who have failed the written test and driving trial are also found driving public vehicles.”