Vehicle shortage could affect Dashain travel

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Oct 13, 2015-

Travelling by public vehicles is not going to be an easy affair for the general people during this festive season. With the blockade imposed by India and the unrest in the southern plains causing an acute fuel shortage, people returning to their villages for Dashain, the most widely celebrated Hindu festival in the country, are likely to encounter a scarcity of vehicles.

“There is absolutely no problem with the number of vehicles. The unavailability of fuel will keep a large number of vehicles off the roads,” said Basanta Adhikari, spokesperson of the Department of Transport Management (DoTM).

According to Adhikari, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said during a meeting with DoTM officials and travel entrepreneurs that it had 1.2 million litres of diesel in stock to keep transportation running during the festival. This 1.2 million litres of diesel will be distributed by NOC within three days, according to DoTM officials.

As per an estimate of the DoTM, as many as 6,000 vehicles streamed out of the Kathmandu Valley daily during the Dashain festival last year. However, only 4,000 vehicles will move out from Kathmandu this time due to the unavailability of petroleum.

Calculated on the basis of 4,000 buses heading towards various destinations across the country and each bus carrying 50 passengers, there will be around 200,000 passengers. This means, within three days, as many as 12,000 buses will carry 600,000 people to their destinations.

According to Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Home Affairs, around 2.5 million people departed from Kathmandu during the Dashain festival last year. This year, around 2 million people are expected to leave. “Since the Dashain festival and the Korean language examination occurred at the same time last year, the level of congestion was much greater. This year, the scenario will be a bit different,” Dhakal said.

The DoTM stated that around 2 million people are projected to leave Kathmandu during the festive season this year. “Out of the total, around 1 million people are believed to have already departed,” Adhikari said, adding that there would be 1 million departures from Kathmandu within one week starting Tuesday. “This means there will be shortfall of vehicles for around 400,000 people,” he added.

The unavailability of petroleum products for the past three weeks and a slowdown in economic activities had prompted people to make an early exit from Kathmandu, according to government officials. Adhikari said that this had contributed to the outflow of 1 million people prior to the Dashain festival.

Since NOC aims to distribute fuel for three days only, it might be difficult for people to return to the valley after the festival. However, the DoTM said that since there is a steady rise in petroleum imports and NOC has been making arrangement to distribute oil to public vehicles through regional depots, the issue might not be severe.

“Moreover, while people leave Kathmandu at about the same time, their return dates vary. While most educational institutions have announced holidays until Tihar, government and private officials will return as soon as Dashain ends,” Adhikari said.

Though the department failed to open Dashain bookings this year, it has established help desks in five places in Kathmandu to manage the movement of people. These help desks are designed to regulate anomalies and ensure quality service to travellers, and have been established at Gongabu, Gaushala, Balkhu, Kalanki and Koteshwor in Kathmandu. The DoTM plans to establish seven more help desks in different parts of the country.

Published: 13-10-2015 09:31

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