Money

149,000 applications for 1,500 new taxicab permits

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
Department of Transport Management has announced it will be picking the winning candidates through a lucky draw due to the overwhelming response

Feb 6, 2017-

 The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) has been swamped with 149,000 applications for 1,500 new taxicab operating permits being offered to residents of the 14 districts hardest hit by the earthquakes of 2015 as part of a support programme for victims.

The department announced that it would be picking the winning candidates through a lucky draw due to the overwhelming response. “We will be conducting a lucky draw within a month,” said DoTM Director General Chandra Man Shrestha, adding the dep- artment was making the final preparations for the lottery.

The government decided to issue new taxi licences in a bid to expand livelihood opportunities for locals of earthquake affected districts besides increasing the number of taxis in Kathmandu for the convenience of travellers.

According to the DoTM, there are currently 8,500 taxis on the streets of the Kathmandu Valley including the 2,850 new taxi cabs registered last year. There were 5,650 taxis in the Capital as of mid-2015. The government opened registrations for new taxi cabs in 2015 for the first time in 15 years. The Ministry of Transportation and Physical Infrastructure has repeatedly planned to issue permits for new taxis in Kathmandu, but it had to back down following strong opposition from taxi entrepreneurs and their associations.

Among the 2,850 new taxi permits issued last year, 1,850 permits were provided to regular applicants while 500 permits were set aside for earthquake survivors and affected families. Another 500 permits were allotted to companies willing to operate deluxe and super deluxe taxis.

As per DoTM statistics, there were 7,500 taxis in Kathmandu in 2000 when the Valley’s population was estimated at 1.3 million. The Capital’s population, including the floating population, is expected to have exploded to around 4 million today.

“Considering the growth in population, adding 1,500 new taxis isn’t much,” said Basanta Adhikari, head of the Small and Big Vehicle Division at the Bagmati Transport Management Office. “It’s only that people hesitate to ride taxis because of the fare.” 

Cases of taxi drivers charging arbitrary fares have decreased after the implementation of a taxi receipt system from the beginning of the fiscal year and strict surveillance by traffic police, Adhikari said.

Taxi drivers in Kathmandu often refused to turn on the taximeter and travellers had to negotiate the fare.

The highest number of new taxi applications, 25,000, came from Sindhupalchok district. Locals of Rasuwa district submitted the lowest number of 2,990 applications.

Adhikari said that it took them around two and a half months to process the applications. “We were not expecting such a massive response. Last time, when we called for 700 applications from across the country, we received just 8,000 applications.”

Adhikari added that the reason behind the overwhelming turnout was the false impression among people in the earthquake affected areas that the government would be buying them a taxi or that it would be subsidised.

The introduction of new taxis in Kathmandu has made life easier for travellers who are compelled to travel in uncomfortable and old cars even though they have to pay much more than for other means of public transportation. While the Maruti 800

had a monopoly in Nepal’s taxi market until 2015, the opening of new registrations has opened the way for entrepreneurs to roll out new models like the Maruti Alto, Hyundai Eon and Ford Figo, among others.

- Follow Giri @sanjeev1974ad

Published: 06-02-2017 09:13

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