Demanding fare hike, truckers halt shipments

- RAJESH KHANAL, Kathmandu
Demanding fare hike, truckers halt shipments

Dec 3, 2014-

Truckers have partially halted goods transportation starting Tuesday, demanding the government raise fares. Amid widespread criticism about the truckers imposing the syndicate system to raise fares, they have demanded the new rates be made official.

The transporters have increased the fare on Bhairahawa-Kathmandu route to Rs 22,000 per 10 tonnes from Rs 19,000. On the Pokhara-Bhairahawa route, the fare has been hiked to Rs 20,000 from Rs 16,500.

The truckers have warned they would stop shipments indefinitely if the government does not address their demands. Those protesting are Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE), Nepal Trucks Entrepreneurs’ Association, Narayani Transport Entrepreneurs’ Association and Tarai Transport Entrepreneurs’ Association. “If our demands go unheard, we will halt the services completely from Friday,” said FNNTE Western Region Coordinator Dharma Raj Adhikari.

The government has abandoned the plan to hike transport fares, including public transport, due to falling fuel prices. “During talks held earlier, the Department of Transport Management had termed the fares we have demanded ‘scientific’, but it has now taken a U-turn,” Adhikari said.

Kishor Kumar Pradhan, vice-president of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said at a time when Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has been slashing fuel prices, the truckers’ demand is “unjustifiable” and “irresponsible”. “This has smeared the private sector’s image.”

The FNCCI has already announced it is opposed to the syndicate system and is ready to work with the government to ensure those imposing the system are penalised, Pradhan said. “The government’s failure to enforce related laws has encouraged syndicate imposers,” he said.

In a eight-point demand, the transporters have demanded that the Traffic Police maintain uniformity in the quantity allowed to ferry.

According to them, DoTM permits a 10-wheel truck to carry up to 17 tonnes, 12-wheel truck up to 21 tonnes, and six-wheel truck up to 10 tonnes. However, the police different quotas even for similar trucks, Adhikari said. “They are providing the permits haphazardly,” he said.

Other demands of the transporters include providing the same blue book category for similar capacity trucks, ending the hassles of Traffic Police and allowing up to 10 percent discount while shipping the goods in small amount.

Rupandehi vows to remove syndicates

MADHAV DHUNGANA

BHAIRAHAWA

The local administration of Rupandehi has pledged to eliminate the syndicate system in transportation after truck operators began hiking freight charges and imposing a rotation basis.

The local administration vowed to stop the practice a day after Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudel issued the order. Under the syndicate system, trucks operate on a rotation basis and shippers cannot hire the carrier of their choice.

On Tuesday, Poudel instructed the local administration to initiate legal action against those running syndicates saying that anybody had a right to do business in a competitive setup.

Although transportation syndicates have been declared illegal, the practice has been continuing as the government has not been able to implement the law. The government had announced with the budget for the current fiscal year that entrepreneurs running syndicates would be blacklisted, but nothing has been done.

Newly appointed chief district officer of Rupandehi Toyam Rayamajhi said that the local administration would take action against anybody obstructing vehicles operating independently. “The chief secretary has given us clear directions on the matter,” he added.

On Sunday, the truck committee affiliated to the Federation of Nepal Truck Transport Entrepreneurs jacked up freight charges for the Bhairahawa-Kathmandu route to Rs 22,000 from Rs 19,000 per truck. Similarly, the cost of sending cargo on the Bhairahawa-Pokhara route has been increased to Rs 20,000 from Rs 16,500 per truck.  

However, the president of the Western Region Transport Entrepreneurs Committee Lok Raj Pokharel asserted that they had not imposed a syndicate system, and that truckers willing to transport goods at the original rate would be free to do so. “We will not obstruct them,” he said.

Published: 04-12-2014 09:14

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