Transport strike paralyses country

  • Police fire bullets and lob teargas canisters during clash with drivers in Achham

Sep 21, 2018-

The ongoing countrywide indefinite strike called by drivers protesting against the recent amendments to the Motor Vehicle and Transport Management Act has crippled routine life in the country for the last four days.

New amendments to the Act make drivers largely accountable for accidents. Drivers and transport associations are protesting against the amendments.

A large number of commuters faced problems as there were no public vehicles plying the road in various parts of the country on Thursday as well.

Several drivers halted their services from Tuesday. They say the amendments made to the Act are not driver friendly. The drivers’ protest has disrupted vehicular movement along the East-West Highway, Postal Highway and BP Highway.

In Achham, police fired bullets into the air and lobbed some teargas canisters after the drivers pelted stones on police personnel. One driver was injured in the clash. Police arrested seven drivers after they tried to obstruct public vehicles from plying the road. The obstruction stranded many passengers on the way.

In Saptari district, protesters halted transport services of buses, e-rickshaws and tempos in Rajbiraj and other areas. Topa resident Shiva Kumar Mandal said people who do not own private vehicles are facing difficulties to commute because of the strike.

The Independent Transport-Worker’s Association of Nepal City Chairman Bhola Prasad Yadav said their members cannot work according to the new Act.

“We shall continue our protests until our demands are met,” he said. The protesters also staged demonstrations in Rajbiraj.

In Chitwan, the drivers continued their strike demanding the government to amend the act.

“The government is going to make us murder-accused through the act. How can we drive vehicles with this condition?” asked Aasharam Mahato, one of the protesters. In Dhanusha, around 11,000 passenger buses could not ply the roads due to the protest of drivers.

Janakpur Zonal Bus Entrepreneur Association Chairman Manoj Chaudhary said they are bearing Rs 30 million loss daily. More than 33,000 passengers are facing problems due to the strike, he said.

In Kanchanpur, passengers were stranded on their way due to the protests.

Rolpa resident Bir Bahadur Oli said, “I cannot reach my home to attend the funeral of mother.” He said he has been compelled to stay in Mahendranagar for the last three days. Hordes of migrant workers returning home for the upcoming major festivals are facing grave difficulties.

“Many drivers are charging exorbitant transport fares. They are charging up to Rs 1,500 for Mahendranagar-Kohalpur route,” said Jagannath Acharya of Bhairabi Rural Municipality in Dailekh. The regular transport fare of Mahendranagar-Kohalpur route is Rs 500, he said.

People from Bajhang and Achham districts too were affected by the drivers’ protest.

“Hundreds of people were left stranded in Dhangadhi Bus Park. We do not know when the protest would end,” said Harka Bahadur Dhami, resident of Deuthala in Bajhang.

In Bara, buses, trucks, tankers, tempos and e-rickshaw could not ply the roads due to protests. The protesters have requested all drivers in the country to support their strike.

Nepal Independent Drivers Struggle Committee Central Co-ordinator Basanta Sharma said they are compelled to protest for the drivers’ welfare. “We are not going to run vehicles until the government makes concrete decision,” he said.

(With inputs from our local correspondents)

Published: 21-09-2018 07:20

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