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Public transport sector loses monthly Rs. 70 billion business since prohibitory order, workers demand relief



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By Ajay Chhetri, Kathmandu, June 11: Discontent of owners and staffs of the passenger vehicles has been growing as their business has been stand still following the enforcement of prohibitory in most parts of the country to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Since April 29 when restrictions in mobility of passenger vehicles were enforced, 290 thousand passenger vehicles have remained standstill.

The restriction has not only disrupted monthly turnover of Rs. 70 billion of the transport sector but also deprived 1.1 million working staff of their income and livelihood.

According to Vice-President of Nepal Yatayat Baybasahi Rastrya Mahasang (Nepal National Federation for Transportation Business), Deepak Adhikari, Some 290 thousand passenger vehicles run across the country including buses, mini and micro buses in different long routes. The turnover of these vehicles in total would be around Rs. 70 billion per month.

He complained that following the month long restriction, stress of the bus owners is growing as their ability to pay the interest and loan has been debilitating. He said that they have been knocking the government through the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation for waivers in various taxes and provision of refinancing. But the outcome is not so significant.

Similarly, the President of Nepal Yatayat Sotantra Majdoor Sangathan (Nepal Independent Workers Organisation), Bhim Jwyala Rai, said restriction has badly affected over 1.1 million transport sector worker, particularly the passenger vehicles staff.

He added that they were dependent only on the daily wage and now they are struggling to manage basic foods for family.

Rai lamented that the government did nothing although they proposed to the government to at least identify the workers who are unable to manage foods and provide them relief with the help of local government during present period of crises caused by prohibitory order.

He even said that if the government did not address the problems especially of the workers of transport sector for longer period, it could consequently lead to an unrest.

He demanded that the government should manage relief package for the workers as soon as possible.

Lok Nath Bhusal, information officer of the Department of Transportation Management of the Ministry of Physical, Infrastructure and Transport, informed that the ministry was prepared to address issues like refinancing and concessions in various taxes of the transport owners at large. He also ensured that demands raised by the worker unions will also be taken into consideration seriously. He also added that the ministry will proceed ahead according to the decision of the Ministry of Finance.