POKHARA, Jan 11: Taxi drivers in Pokhara obstructed vehicular movement for nearly two hours on Wednesday morning to protest police action against their colleagues who refused to go by meter.
District Traffic Police Office, Kaski, on Tuesday arrested 18 taxi drivers from different parts of Pokhara, on charge of overcharging passengers.“"We swung into action after receiving complaints from passengers that taxi drivers were refusing to go by meters and charging random fares. Police personnel in civil dress, who posed as passengers, arrested the drivers”" Superintendent of Police Ashok Singh said.
District Traffic Police Office, Kaski, also arrested six taxi drivers who were involved in obstructing vehicular movement on Wednesday morning.
The arrested drivers have been handed over to District Transport Management Office. They can be levied a fine of Rs 5,000 each, according to existing rules.
Prakash Man Tiwari, president of Taxi Driver's Committee, said though the police have forcefully cleared obstruction their protest has not ended.“"We had requested the police to impound the taxis but release the driver. We resorted to protest after the police turned down our request”" he said, adding:“"But we had blocked only one lane, not the entire road”" he added.
Tiwari told Republica that their protest will continue until a further decision.
There are around 2,200 taxis in operation in Pokhara city.
The committee has demanded that the government authorities first fix the base fare. The base fare at present is Rs 14. The charge per kilometer is Rs 43
Taxi drivers are founding charging as high as Rs 150 per kilometer.“"We fix the fare as per the time and the situation”" maintained Tiwari.
Kapilnath Koirala, president of Consumer's Forum, Kaski, also said that the forum has been receiving complaints that taxi drivers are refusing to go by meters.“"They should not flout the government's rules and regulations”" he said, adding:“"Anyone not abiding by the government's rule should be brought to book”"
Meanwhile, issuing a statement on Wednesday, Nepal Transport Workers' Union, Kaski, said that the government shouldn't bother transport workers without informing them.“"We urge the police to release the taxi drivers, who are in police custody, at the earliest and find a long-term solution to the problem”" the union added in the statement.