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50 companies defy syndicate’s strike call, to continue services

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

May 4, 2018-Government’s crackdown on agitating transport operators has gained more traction as private bus companies rallied behind its move against the organised transport syndicates.

Around 50 public transport companies have decided to support the government in its bid to foil the public transport strike called by the transport entrepreneurs, led by the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE).

During a meeting with the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) officials on Thursday, the companies assured the government of full cooperation.

 “We have been supporting government move against the syndicate system. We have decided to operate our buses on Friday,” said Mohan Bahadur Shrestha, chairman of Mayur Yatayat, who was present at the meeting.

Representatives of the public transport companies from different parts of the country have urged the government to make security arrangements for them to ply their buses without hassles.

“I don’t think there will be any public transport strike tomorrow [Friday],” said Shrestha. “The government has also planned to deploy security forces inside the public transport, which encourages the companies to operate their vehicles without fear.”

The DoTM has confirmed that necessary security arrangements have been made in conjunction with the District Administration Office for the transport companies to operate their bus services in all 77 districts. 

Earlier, there were reports that transport companies had halted bus services on long routes from Thursday afternoon as the buses would be on the way to their destination on Friday—the day of the FNNTE-called strike.

“We have stopped the long-route buses as there will be a complete shutdown from tomorrow. We have closed all the counters of the buses leaving for various destinations across the country,” claimed FNNTE General Secretary Saroj Sitaula.

However, the private bus companies have continued with their services, defying the calls from the agitating entrepreneurs.

Chuda Bahadur Khadka, a representative from Nagarik Yatayat which operates more than 60 vehicles, including bus, jeep and micro-buses, said the company is operating its buses on the Kathmandu-Nepalgunj and Nepalgunj-Rukum-Rolpa routes.

“FNNTE representatives have noted down our vehicle numbers and threatened dire consequences. But we are continuing our bus services on the long routes,” said Khadka, adding that they are collecting contact details of bus owners associated with the FNNTE.

“Most of them want to continue their services, but they are afraid of threats. From Friday, all our buses will be out on the streets. We will operate more buses on the routes where there are more passenger rush.”

Besides making security arrangements, the DoTM has said the buses registered under a company will not require a route-permit for Friday. However, it has urged the transport companies to operate their vehicles, covering both their regular routes and beyond.

“The DoTM has advised us to extend our services beyond our regular routes to pick up the slack on other routes where there might be a fewer buses in operation,” said Shrestha of Mayur Yatayat.

The government is also considering using buses of educational institutions and security forces, if necessary.

“Following our security assurance, the private companies are ready to continue their services. We have also discussed with the educational institutions, Nepal Army and Nepal Police. They are willing to cooperate with us,” said DoTM Director Tirtha Raj Khanal.

Earlier during a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday morning, the government had once again asked the agitating entrepreneurs to withdraw their protest programmes.

“We assured them that a commission will be formed to look into the matter and find a solution to the ongoing stalemate. We requested the FNNTE representatives to withdraw the protest,” said DoTM Director General Rupnarayan Bhattarai.

The transport entrepreneurs are adamant not to call off the protest until the government revokes its decision of mandatory company registration and amendment to the Transport Management Directive-2004, said Bhattarai.

Published: 04-05-2018 08:23

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