House committee directs government to allow taxis to resume serviceTaxi drives, who were struggling to survive, have welcomed the “life-saving decision”.
The Development and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives has directed the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to let taxi operators resume their business following strict health protocols.
Taxi drivers in Kathmandu Valley had been carrying out protests since June 30, demanding that they should be allowed to operate their business because they were struggling to survive due to over three months of lockdown.
The committee's meeting held on Wednesday in the presence of public transport entrepreneurs directed the ministry to operate the taxi service following health protocol prepared by the Corona Crisis Management Centre and the Ministry of Health and Population.
Ever since the government eased the lockdown rules from the second week of June, taxi drivers had been raising their voice demanding that they too be allowed to work.
Hundreds of taxi drivers had even defied the government’s restriction and started carrying passengers.
The Metropolitan Traffic Police had booked over 7,000 taxi drivers for violating the lockdown restrictions in the past three weeks.
“We will allow taxis to operate but the taxi drivers should compulsorily wear masks and they should not carry more than two passengers at a time,” said Gogan Bahadur Hamal, director-general at the Department of Transport Management.
The Kathmandu Valley has 12,385 taxis, and twice as many drivers who work in day and night shifts.
Since last week, hundreds of taxi drivers had been staging a protest outside the transport department office in Minbhawan, Kathmandu, saying that they were struggling to feed their families and pay their vehicle loans.
“This is a life-saving decision for struggling taxi drivers in these hard times,” said Surya Tamang, chairperson of Taxi Majdur Sangh, an organisation of taxi drivers spearheading the protest. “We are ready to follow the government’s health protocol if we are allowed to carry passengers,” said Tamang.
Hamal, the director-general at the transport department, said taxi drivers should wear masks,carry hand sanitisers and wear gloves when they are on duty.