Transport entrepreneurs and workers have threatened to halt public transport across the country from Friday. They urged the government to fulfill their demands by Thursday or face nationwide protests in a programme held at Reporters’ Club today.
“We have taken this decision as the government has ignored our demands,” said president of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs National Federation Yogendra Nath Karmacharya
According to him, transport entrepreneurs and workers have decided to take this drastic step because the government has ignored their requests from time to time. “We had submitted our demands to the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management, and Department of Transport Management on a number of occasions but our demands were not fulfilled,” he said, “We only got assurance in words.”
Four major associations — Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs National Federation, All Nepal Transport Workers’ Association, Nepal Transport Workers’ Association and Free Nepal Transport Workers’ Organisation — have united for the protests. The struggle has moral support from Nepal Truck Tanker Entrepreneurs Association too.
The transporters have submitted a memorandum to caretaker prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai too. “It’s just a memorandum we submitted to the prime minister. Our demands have already been submitted to the department and ministries,” said coordinator of the struggle committee Vijaya Bahadur Swar.
Transporters and workers have demanded the government to declare roads as a peace zone and ensure the safety of vehicles and workers during strikes and bandhs. “The roads have become insecure. We want the government to provide us security,” said Karmacharya.
According to him, their major demands are the establishment of a separate ministry for transport, and recognition of the transport sector as an industry. They have also asked the government to withdraw the rights that were handed over to traffic police from the transport department. “The traffic police are denying transporters their rights,” he said.
The government delegated the rights to check vehicle tax and other charges to the traffic police in February this year. Similarly, the government has also decided to provide incentives from the fines collected to the traffic police.
Transport workers are not included in social security benefit, so we are also fighting for it, said president of Free Nepal Transport Workers’ Organisation Rajeev Ghimire.
He also demanded a separate insurance scheme for transport workers. The government has an insurance scheme of Rs 50,000 for passengers, drivers, and helpers, but third-party insurance is about Rs 500,000. It is not justifiable, he added.