Govt postpones public transport fare-hike plan

- NIRMALA ADHIKARI, Kathmandu
Govt postpones public transport fare-hike plan

Oct 31, 2014-

The government’s plan to allow transport entrepreneurs to raise fares has been postponed for at least a week. Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and the transporters had reached an agreement to raise public transport fares by 5.63 percent with effect from November 1, based on an agreement reached six months ago.

However, the government was forced defer the plan amid wide criticism the transport fares should not be hiked at the time when fuel prices have decreased.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala directed the ministry to put on hold the fare-hike plan. The prime minister asked Transport Minister Bimalendra Nidhi to justify a fare hike at a time when Nepal Oil Corporation has slashed fuel prices.

The state-run oil monopoly cut diesel price by Rs 2.33 per litre in two different times within a month.

The Department of Transport Management has dispatched a letter to transport entrepreneurs asking them not to implement the proposed hike until further notice.

After the prime minister’s direction, the ministry has formed a five-member committee to study the matter. The committee headed by the department’s Director General Kashi Raj Dahal has been asked to recommend “scientific measures” to hike transport fares in line with fuel price fluctuations.

Other members of the committee include representatives from the ministry, the department, consumer rights activists, transport entrepreneurs and technical experts.

The committee has been asked to submit two reports-short- and medium-term measures to raise transport fares.

“As the transport entrepreneurs have been saying the fares have not been revised for the last 20 months, the committee has been asked to look into the impact of fuel prices on transport fares,” said Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the ministry. “The committee has been given a week to submit the reports.”

He said the committee would also study whether the existing parameters for increasing fares are justifiable. The panel has been given a month to study the matter.

Stating spare parts prices have skyrocketed, the transport entrepreneurs have urged the government to consider this component too, besides the fuel prices.

The Supply and Consumer Welfare sub-committee under the Industry, Commerce and Consumers Welfare Interests Committee of the Parliament on Wednesday directed the ministry to form a committee before implementing any decision to revise public transportation fares.

The sub-committee summoned ministry officials and instructed them to hold a study before increasing the fares.

Published: 01-11-2014 09:25

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