Protesting transporters to halt services in KathmanduOn Monday, they staged a protest around the Gongabu Buspark area disrupting vehicular movement. Protesters also vandalised a nearby shopping mall.
Transport operators on Monday staged a demonstration against the traffic police’s ‘stringent’ rules, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s announcement to not let long and medium route public vehicles park in open spaces other than inside the New Bus Park at Gongabu.
The demonstration took a violent turn when the agitating protesters set fire on two traffic vans, venting their ire against the police, who they say overcharged fines. They also protested an alleged assault by people associated with Lhotse Multipurpose Pvt Ltd, the contractor company hired to operate the New Bus Park. They also vandalised the supermarket’s building.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City in 1999 had awarded the contract to the company to run operations inside the New Bus Park for 45 years.
The protest that started in the afternoon lasted till the evening and caused inconvenience to hundreds of people travelling along the Ring Road.
The protesters blocked the road by parking their vehicles in the middle of the road at the Balaju, Machapokhari, and New Bus Park areas, burnt tyres and pelted stones at the police leading to a tense situation throughout the day.
Transport entrepreneurs also announced that they will halt transport services from Tuesday as a protest against the government for allegedly not implementing the agreements made in the past.
“The employees of the company assaulted our workers and we are protesting against the highhandedness of the contractor company,” said Bhimjwala Rai, president of Nepal Transport Independent Workers’ Organisation.
Last Monday, workers at the bus park area were allegedly attacked by a group of people affiliated with Lhotse Multipurpose Company.
The transport workers also said that the people involved in the attack have not been booked.
Issuing a joint press release on Monday evening, the Nepal Transport Independent Workers’ Organization, Nepal Transport Workers’ Association and All Nepal Transport Workers’ Association have announced various protest programmes.
Through the statement, transport workers have also accused the traffic police of charging fines unlawfully, suspending drivers’ licence, and charging unnecessarily in the name of pollution tests of vehicles.
Since January, the traffic police have been sending licences to the Department of Transport Management for suspension if they are found breaching traffic rules more than five times.
Speaking to the Post, Deputy Inspector General of Police Mira Chaudhari, who is also chief of the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office, said a meeting of all stakeholders three months ago had endorsed the decision of mandatory parking of long and medium route public vehicles only in New Bus Park.
“We have been implementing the decision as it was agreed upon earlier that parking of long and medium route public vehicles will be done inside the New Bus Park,” Chaudhari said. “The decision was taken to reduce roadside traffic jams and for more open spaces.”
Kathmandu’s major river corridors and open spaces are often seen mainly occupied by vehicles causing traffic jams as they use such corridors to park their vehicles.
According to SP Sitaram Rijal, who is also spokesperson for Kathmandu District Police Range, police took control of 10 protesters in the evening for their involvement in vandalism and arson. During the scuffle, 17 police personnel were injured. He said they don’t have the exact details of the injured protestors.
He said police didn’t use force till the evening to avoid any inconvenience for the general public in the area but they were compelled to after 7 pm. Police fired a few teargas shells to disperse the crowd. SP Rijal said they don’t have the details of damages caused in the shopping mall as they are yet to talk to the owners.