Permit no longer needed for essential services within KathmanduFrom Friday, the District Administration Office, Kathmandu started issuing travel permits only to those who have to travel out of the Valley for funeral rites or extremely essential purposes
On Friday morning, Dhurba Bhandari of Jayabageshwari, Kathmandu was standing in a queue along with hundreds of others outside the District Administration Office at Babarmahal for a travel permission. The prohibitory orders which came into effect from Thursday barred anyone, except for those associated with essential services, from travelling inside and outside the Kathmandu Valley without a travel permission.
Bhandari had submitted an application for permission to travel to Syangja following the death of his grandmother. “I am not sure if I will get a pass because they have refused to issue passes to hundreds of applicants citing the travels were not essential and some applicants with special cases were sent back saying they can travel without passes,” said Bhandari.
However, after waiting for nearly three hours, he was issued a travel permit.
According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, over 4,100 people have left the valley till 8 pm on Friday.
“A majority of them were going to attend weddings. They were on ambulances returning to districts and empty trucks and some people had travel passes issued by the district administration,” said superintendent Shyam Krishna Adhikari, also the spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
Another applicant in the queue, Kamal Jung Shahi, a resident of Chabahil, said he wanted a travel pass because he has to run errands for his sister’s wedding. “I waited and waited but now the officials have told me that I can travel without a pass because weddings are exempt from travel restrictions,” the 31-year-old said.
The District Administration Office after witnessing a large number of applications for travel permission issued a new notice Friday stating that passes would be issued only for those requiring travel outside the Valley for attending death rituals or other extremely important works.
“Employees of bank and insurance companies, people travelling to airports, caretakers of ill individuals, and people working in the essential services sector will not require travel passes and if such people face obstructions in travelling they can contact Nepal Police emergency numbers 100 or 103 for assistance,” the notice issued by the District Administration Office, Kathmandu on Friday read.
However, many people were worried that if they travelled without passes they would be stopped by the police and punished for violating the prohibitory orders.
Prakash Sapkota of Thali Kathmandu, a dairy farmer who supplies milk and was told by officials that he would not need a pass, was still not convinced and was quizzing the police at Babarmahal Friday. “Will I be punished if I travel without passes?” he asked a policeman stationed at the gate of the administration office.
Last year, when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 24, even vehicles carrying essential goods needed passes issued by the administration office.
According to Chief District Officer Kali Prasad Parajuli, the office has been issuing travel permits only to those who have to travel out of the Valley for funeral rites or extremely essential works.
“We have rejected many applications from construction companies and other private companies which applied for travel permits as they are non essential services,” Parajuli told the Post. “Only a couple hundred passes have been issued by the office because not everyone needs a pass as they can travel by showing their office ID cards.”
Meanwhile, according to Adhikari, over 2200 vehicles were detained for defying prohibition orders on Friday.
On Monday, chief district officers of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur had decided to enforce prohibitory orders for a week which was later extended by the Cabinet for the period to 15 days.
According to the prohibitory orders, assemblies, seminars, training are not allowed and cinemas, party venues, swimming pools, shopping malls, places of entertainment, salons, beauty parlours, gyms, sports venues, libraries, museums and zoos are not allowed to operate.
Previously the DAO had said that weddings and other life rituals are allowed with not more than 15 persons and with prior permission from the district administration office however, according to the Friday notice, travel passes are not required for such rituals.
So far Nepal has reported a total of 323,187 covid-19 cases with 38,813 active cases.
Nepal in the last 24 hours reported 33 more Covid-19 related fatalities, pushing the death toll to 3,279. The country also recorded 5,657 new cases and 70 antigen positives.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, Kathmandu Valley recorded 2,956 new infections in the past 24 hours. Of them, 2,404 cases were confirmed in Kathmandu, 419 in Lalitpur and 133 in Bhaktapur.
As there has been as unprecedented rise in Covid-19 cases, besides the three districts of the Kathmandu Valley, prohibitory orders have also been imposed in Kaski, Banke, Kailali, Parsa, Kanchanpur, Dang, Palpa, Chitwan, Rupandehi, Salyan, Surkhet and Sunsari.
Likewise, partial prohibitory orders have been enforced in Kalikot, Baglung and Bardiya districts.