Bus owners use political nexus

  • Rift among entrepreneurs
  • Govt ‘firm’ on action
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Apr 21, 2018-While the agitating transport entrepreneurs are counting on their political connections to stay safe from the authorities’ action against their syndicate, the government has reaffirmed its resolve to dismantle the cartels plaguing public transport.

Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth said the government stands by its decision to uproot the syndicates. Refuting the claims of the agitating transport committees that he was positive about addressing their concerns, Mahaseth said, “The government is committed to its decisions. We have to make the sector well-managed.”

The minister was said to be considering a “middle-path” to resolve the dispute. Transport entrepreneurs have intensified their lobbying in the last couple of days, seeking revision to the government’s decision not to renew registration of transport entrepreneurs’ committees as well as the recent amendment to the Transport Management Directive (2004).

The government on Wednesday decided not to renew registration of associations/committees of transport entrepreneurs with immediate effect. It also asked them to register under the Company or Cooperative Acts.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday met Minister Mahaseth and Department 

of Transport Management Director General Rup Narayan Bhattarai to ask them to avoid talks and 

to jump into action against the cartels.

According to Mahaseth, entrepreneurs have been expressing their concerns over the order to register as companies. With the amendment to the transport directives, a private firm must have at least five vehicles to enter the transport sector. Accepting the memo submitted by the representatives, Minister Mahaseth on Friday urged bus operators to withdraw their protest immediately for dialogue.

“The directives can be changed through talks. Call off your protest and we might address your legitimate concerns,” Mahaseth told the entrepreneurs. There was growing suspicion about the government’s stance against syndicates after the agitating entrepreneurs close to the UML met the minister, a leader from the party. Entrepreneurs later said the minister was positive about their demands.

The developments worry Transport Department officials if the ongoing struggle against the powerful syndicates goes in vain. However, DG Bhattarai stressed that there would be no looking back now.

He said the prime minister had been supportive of action against syndicates not only in public transport but all the sectors. “We’ll succeed in this battle. The PM has pledged support against all probable obstacles to dismantling syndicates,” said Bhattarai.

According to one transport entrepreneur, the companies were already split into two factions—those supporting the Nepali Congress and those backing the left parties. Representatives of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entre-preneurs, who are close to the ruling parties, have not come openly in support of the stir.

UML-aligned FNNTE representatives are lobbying for a face-saving solution. It is said that they want a failure of the agitation, headed by FNNTE Chair Yogendranath Karmacharya, who is close to the Congress. “FNNTE representatives aren’t wholeheartedly into the protest, which is unlikely to succeed,” said the entrepreneur.

 

 

Published: 21-04-2018 06:55

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