Wednesday, 5 October 2016

NEPAL: Jeep Operators Halt Service

Amrit Moktan was found waiting for vehicles at Balkhu since 6 am on Wednesday to travel to Hetauda with his family members for celebrating Dashain.

He was astonished to spot not a single Tata Sumo jeep there. Till yesterday, there were many horn-honking vehicles waiting for passengers.

“How did all the jeeps left so early today?”, Moktan questioned himself.

To his surprise, even tickets sellers didn’t pay their attention to him. Earlier, they used to pull passengers inside jeeps carrying their luggage. But, everything was different today.

“What happened to the vehicles?,” he asked a person next to him. Then only he knew that the jeep owners have parked all the vehicles in garages as they were not allowed to charge exorbitantly during Dashain festival.

“What am I supposed to do now,” said a bewildered Moktan.

“There is a public help desk of Traffic Police nearby Vayodha Hospital, maybe they could help you out,” replied a passenger.

When he went there, he found a crowd of people waiting to collect tickets.

Someone from the queue said, “We are ready to pay Rs 600 instead of government-declare rate of Rs 414. Please, provide us jeep tickets.”

“You need not to do that. You will not be charged extra. If they charge you more the rate, call the traffic police immediately. Action will taken against them and the money will be refunded”

Not only Moktan, it was the story of hundreds of passengers. There are hundreds of other passengers like Moktan waiting to go home and be with their family members this festive season.

Passengers have become the victim of jeep operators trying to charge more fare and government agencies tying to stop that.

Gunjaman Singh, Chairman of Jeep Coordination Committee, an umbrella organization of the jeep operators argued that they need to charge more as vehicles have to return empty from Heatuda.

Singh said, “We are trying our best to satisfy the passengers. We will have to bear loss if the jeeps return without passengers. As the construction works are underway, it takes at least two hours to reach the destination. Locals don’t allow adding more passengers in the mid-way. Even if we managed to do so, police will take action against us. There are around 5-7 police checks on the way. Government should understand our problems.”

He claimed that there were no jeeps at Balkhu as they leave at 4 am in morning and take long time to reach their destination. Passengers said that problem was caused as passengers take the vehicles on a reserve.

The problem still persists although the help desk issues tickets to the people in the urgent need of travel. The desk comprises of representatives of Nepal Police, Traffic Police and Transport entrepreneurs among others.

Thousands of passengers on a mad rush for Dashain are bearing the brunt of the tussle between transports entrepreneurs and authorities.