KATHMANDU, Jan 2 : If everything goes as planned, residents of the Kathmandu Valley will get to commute by Sajha Yatayat (SY) buses from mid-February.
The SY cooperative, which had once earned endearment of people across the country by operating reliable and affordable transport services across the country, has already ordered 50 buses from Tata Motors of India. According to Mahendra Raj Pandeya, manager of SY cooperative, Tata Motors is likely to deliver the buses by February first week.
“If we receive the buses by February first week, we will resume services by mid-February,” said Pandeya. “The new buses will be more advanced in comparison to the existing public buses.”
According to Pandeya, all the buses will have fifty-five passenger seats. They will also have LCD televisions, CCTV cameras and ticket display systems. “The buses will have two separate doors for entry and exit,” said Pandeya.
The SY cooperative has invested Rs 60 million for the new buses. The government has also lent its support for the resumption of the service. For now, SY cooperative has applied for four route permits in the Valley, said Pandeya.
Sajha Yatayat was established as a cooperative in the 1960s with the objective of providing efficient and affordable public transport service to commuters in the Valley. Later, the SY cooperative expanded its services across the country, winning the hearts of millions of common people.
However, mismanagement and financial irregularities, as a result of political meddling, caused the SY cooperative to gradually lose its sheen. Eventually, by 1994, the glorious days of SY cooperative were over. In recent years, some of its former members took initiatives to revive the cooperative.
At a time when the Valley residents are sick of the existing public transport service, which mainly comprises of old buses, small microbuses that are usually crammed, and rickety tempos, the resumption of Sajha bus service is a reason to cheer, say commuters.
Deepa Bogati, 50, a resident of Hattigauda of Kathmandu, who once enjoyed the rides on Sajha buses, was excited to learn that Sajha buses are again ready to ply the Valley roads.
“I still remember the days when I used to travel from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu by a Sajha bus,” says Bogati. “It was cheap but reliable. However, it was not easy to get the tickets. I hope new Sajha buses will have enough seats so that people need not struggle for tickets.”
Uma Gurung, a housewife in Kathmandu, is also thrilled at the prospect of traveling by Sajha buses again. “We will have an affordable public transport now,” says Gurung,
It is not only common people like Bogati and Gurung who are excited at the revival of Sajha buses. Celebrities like Hari Bansha Acharya, who has recorded a song Sajha busmaa jo pani chadhdachha, dedicated to Sajha buses, are also delighted at the prospect of traveling by Sajha buses once again.
Acharya says he once regarded Sajha bus as his close friend. “I used to travel by Sajha buses when I was struggling as an actor. The news about revival of Sajha buses makes me nostalgic.”