Valley authorities mull allowing public vehicles as restrictions stay for another weekAs daily nationwide coronavirus cases fall below 2,000, transport entrepreneurs say the sector faces another crisis this year and seek permission for all large vehicles.
The prohibitory orders in place in the three districts of Kathmandu Valley since April 29 have been extended by a week starting Monday but the ban on public vehicles is to be lifted.
The chief district officers of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur are for allowing public vehicles to resume services but they are yet to decide the modality.
“We have agreed to allow public vehicles. Most probably buses having more than 20 seats will be permitted to run, ” said Dhundi Prasad Niraula, the chief district officer of Lalitpur.
“Regarding the modality of operating public vehicles, the Valley’s CDOs will be sitting for another meeting tomorrow at 10am. That will give a decision,” said Niraula.
Last week the three district administrators had eased prohibitory orders to allow private vehicles to run on odd-even number basis and businesses to operate on alternate days.
Following the outbreak of a second coronavirus wave in late April, prohibitory orders have been in place in Kathmandu Valley for two months. After permission for private and government vehicles, the Valley’s roads have already witnessed traffic jams.
Across the country, district authorities have adopted the model practised in Kathmandu Valley. The nationwide Covid-19 infection tally has reached 633,679, with 9,009 deaths reported as of Sunday.
The notice published by the District Administration Office, Kathmandu last week allows shops selling jewellery, electronic appliances and automobiles to open on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Shopping malls, clothing stores, gift shops, sports apparel stores and cosmetics shops are allowed to do business on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Grocery shops and department stores are allowed to open until 11am every day.
There is no change in the decisions other than resuming public transport services, said Niraula, the Lalitpur district administrator. “We still need to be more conscious as the Delta Plus virus has already entered the country, ”
The Valley’s authorities took up the agenda after transport entrepreneurs held a meeting and submitted a memorandum to them.
“We reached Kathmandu CDO office and held a meeting with Valley’s chiefs on Friday about allowing public vehicles, as the sector is linked with the livelihood of thousands of families,” said Yogendra Karmacharya, chairman of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs.
Millions more depend on the transportation sector as a number of other businesses rely on it. According to the federation, over 400,000 public vehicles have been garaged for two months.
Last year, when the country went under lockdown from March 24 for four months, public vehicles were forced out of roads, and vehicle owners had complained of them rusting away. Long-route vehicles remained in the garage for nine months.
“The owners of public vehicles are already at a great loss due to last year’s lockdown. Now it’s been over two months. They have bank loans to pay and families to look after. It seems that the government is not concerned about the problem of public vehicle operators,” said Karmacharya.
The federation has demanded that the government not restrict public vehicles on odd-even basis after reopening. Because doing this will leave vehicles crowded, said Karmacharya. “Instead, all public vehicles should be allowed to run following the health protocols strictly,” said Karmacharya.
Daily Covid-19 cases have been coming down after peaking on May 11 when the country confirmed a record 9,317 new infections. On April 29, when the prohibitory orders were imposed in the Valley, nationwide daily cases numbered 4,831.
On Sunday, the country reported 1,352 new Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths. In the past 24 hours, Kathmandu Valley recorded 424 new infections. Of these, 292 cases were confirmed in Kathmandu, 100 in Lalitpur and 32 in Bhaktapur.