Money

Transport syndicates collect fees illegally

- BHUSHAN YADAV, BIRGUNJ
As per the rules, cargo trucks need not pay a toll fee of more than Rs50 per trip. But transports syndicates have built their own check posts at various places on the route and collect fees in an arbitrary manner.

Apr 25, 2018-Four transport syndicates operating on Birgunj-Kathmandu route are collecting extra fees of up to Rs470 from each cargo truck operating on the sector, exerting upward pressure on prices of various goods bound for the capital.

Around 200 cargo trucks leave for Kathmandu from customs point, dry port and Bara-Parsa industrial corridor of Birgunj. This means transport syndicates collect at least Rs940,000 per day from these trucks. No tax is paid on this income.

Currently, four syndicates, Tarai Transport Entrepreneurs Association, Narayani Transport Entrepreneurs Association, Nepal Truck Operators Federation and Tarai Transport Association, are collecting various fees from cargo trucks operating on Birgunj-Kathmandu route. These syndicates also collect registration fees from new cargo trucks that join the route, and other quarterly and annual fees, increasing financial burden on truck operators.

As per the rules, cargo trucks need not pay a toll fee of more than Rs50 per trip. But transports syndicates have built their own check posts at various places on the route and collect fees in an arbitrary manner.

Tarai Transport Entrepreneurs Association, for example, has created a check post at Simara, where it collects Rs250 from each truck bound for Kathmandu. Narayani Transport Entrepreneurs Association has created similar check post at Hetauda, where it collects Rs50 from each truck operating on the route. Nepal Truck Operators Federation, on the other hand, has built a check post at Naubise, where it collects Rs70 from each truck operating on the route, while Tarai Transport Association collects Rs100 from each truck at the dry port in Sirsiya.

“Tarai Transport Entrepreneurs Association collects Rs250 from each truck but gives a receipt of Rs10,” said a truck driver. “Narayani Transport Entrepreneurs Association collects Rs50 but gives a receipt of Rs25. They sometimes refuse to return the change.”

Truck drivers who speak against these malpractices are physically assaulted. These transport syndicates are so powerful they have even managed to rope in influential leaders of major political parties to their advisory committees, according to entrepreneurs.

“This kind of protection from politicians and even police administration has increased the cost of operating trucks on the route,” entrepreneurs said.

If transport cost goes up, cost of goods will also go up, a representative of the Birgunj Chambers of Commerce and Industry said on condition of anonymity.

However, Shanker Bista, general secretary of Tarai Transport and Truck Entrepreneurs Association, defended the move stating “a big chunk money collected from trucks is used for medical treatment of road accident victims”. “We have spent up to Rs5.7 million during one road accident,” said Bista.

His comment, however, comes at a time when the government has made third-party insurance mandatory to cover the cost of medical treatment of road accident victims.

Published: 25-04-2018 09:22

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