KATHMANDU, Aug 12: The transporters have ended their two-day-old strike of public transport after the government agreed to form a task force to study their demand to annul a provision which allowed traffic police to fine motorists up to Rs 1,000 late Saturday night.
During Saturday´s talks, the government agreed to address 14 of the 15-point demand put forward by the transporters.
On the most contentious point - annulment of delegation of authority to the traffic police to fine motorists between Rs 200 to Rs 1,000, the two sides agreed to resolve the issue after a field study by the task force comprising representatives from both the sides.
"We have agreed to revisit the government´s decision to provide authority to the traffic police through a study and are ready to address other 14 demands," Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management (MoPPWTM) told Republica after the meeting.
The transport entrepreneurs have also shown flexibility to conduct a field study over the most crucial point of their demands through the task force within next 15 days. "We have called off our strike after the government agreed to carefully study on our problems and sort out it," Dol Nath Khanal, general secretary of the National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs (NFNTE), said. "The government´s decision will be based on the field report of the task force."
Four transport unions including National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs (NFNTE), All Nepal Transport Workers Association, Nepal Yatayat Workers Association and Nepal Yatayat Independent Workers´ Association had jointly declared indefinite strike from August 10, accusing the government of failing to address the problems of transport entrepreneurs.
Commuters, who relied heavily on the public transports, were severely affected by the two day strike. The entrepreneurs had called nationwide strike demanding for annulment of the provision for slapping fines of Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 for every single violation of traffic rules. Additionally, the transport entrepreneurs have urged for annulment of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division´s decision to reward 15 percent of revenues collected as fine from drivers to traffic police who was involved in fining the violator.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters suffered as public vehicles such as micro-vans, tempos, buses and taxis stayed off the road due to the strike for the second day Saturday. The second round of talk between government and transport entrepreneurs had ended inconclusively on Friday afternoon.
The transporters had then threatened to stop even the private vehicles from operating from Sunday to press their demands.
"The provision for slapping fines ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 is not practical as drivers of public vehicles, who need to be on the road throughout the day, cannot afford to fork out such huge amounts and it´s not practical," Khanal, said referring to the four-month-old decision of the government to delegate authority to increase fines to the traffic police.
As black-plated vehicles -- a broad categorization of public transport vehicles -- stayed away from regular service, Nagdhunga checkpoint, the main entry and exit point to and from Kathmandu Valley, recorded only 200 private vehicles passing through on Friday and it was almost same on Saturday as well. Normally, 3,000-5,000 vehicles use the Nagdhunga point every day, according to Metropolitan Traffic Police at Nagdhunga.