No ticket to ride home

  • Plaints abound over ticket unavailability for Dashain
- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu
No ticket to ride home

Sep 19, 2014-

It is barely six in the morning at Gongabu Bus Park. Thirty-eight-year old Kamala Kharel stands next to a ticket counter, hoping to somehow buy a bus ticket to Dhangadi. She wishes to visit her hometown to celebrate Dashain with her family, which she has been doing every year. This year, though, she may not get the bus ticket. She has already been told that all the tickets have been sold out.

Kamala, however, hopes the case may not be so, that maybe she will get the ticket if she waited longer. She is not the only one waiting grim-faced for a lucky turn of events. Many people have been visiting the ticket counters at Bus Park, enquiring if there are any seats available.

The advance booking system launched in view of the approaching festivals has hundreds of passengers worried that they will be unable to visit their families during Dashain festivals this year.

According to Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, the tickets were already booked within a week from the day the booking started on August 10.

Till date, more than 120,930 tickets have been booked from September 25 (Ghatasthapana) to October 2 (Mahasthami); around 600,000 people have already left the Capital city to celebrate Dashain with their loved ones.

 The Department Of Transport Management (DoTM) estimates that 1.5 million people will be leaving the Kathmandu Valley for Dashain this year. Around 5,000 public vehicles leave for outer districts from Kathmandu everyday. To accommodate the growing number of people wanting to visit their homes during the festival, DoTM plans to add around 1,500 public buses this time. Eight hundred buses were added last year.

 “We are planning to repair and run as many buses as possible, and we will also be using local vehicles running within the valley to serve the long distance-passengers,” says Sarad Adhikari, the technical director of DoTM.

But some people say that adding extra vehicles is not going to solve the problem. They claim the bus operators are selling tickets in higher prices saying that there are only limited seats available. Sambhu Kumar Shah recently booked a bus ticket to Janakpur for Rs 1,200, nearly two times the actual fare.

“Getting that ticket would not have been possible had I not contacted this person who had been selling tickets charging high rates. Before I ran into this man, every ticket counter I visited told me that they had no ticket available,” says Shah.

 Although the government has established  peoples’ help desk at 11 places in the Valley to monitor the ticket sales and help the passengers, people are still complaining that they are being forced to buy tickets at higher prices.

Kamal Thapa, the inspector at Thankot Traffic Police Office, says they receive more than 100 complaints on a daily basis and that they have been monitoring the ticket counters as well. Contrary to Thapa’s claim, the ticket counters in places like Kalanki, Gongabu Bus Park, Sundhara, Dhapashi, Gaushala, Chabahil and Koteshwor are full of so-called agents, approaching the prospective ticket buyers, and whispering in their ears if they wish to buy tickets to anywhere. And, of course, the price they quote is inflated. The police personnel stationed at the help desks, meanwhile, seem unaware of these scalpers’ presence.

Published: 20-09-2014 09:24

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