The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) has begun to get ready for the annual Dashain travel rush and is likely to open advance bookings for bus tickets in the first week of October.
The department has prepared an action plan to manage the overall process including ticket bookings to ensure efficient handling of the travel plans of the general people.
“We have prepared an action plan and sent it to the Ministry of Transport for further advancement,” said Chandra Man Shrestha, director general at the DoTM.
Basanta Adhikari, director of the DoTM, said that the department had proposed to open ticket bookings on October 4. “If the ministry agrees to this, we will hold a meeting with transportation entrepreneurs and then set a date for opening bookings,” Adhikari said. A meeting between the department and transportation entrepreneurs slated for September 20 will make the final call regarding the date.
According to Adhikari, the government plans to open bookings late to prevent fraudulent practices in the market. “When you start bookings early, the chances of people getting cheated are higher,” Adhikari said. “This is why we are planning to delay opening bookings.
However, travel entrepreneurs said that they had been urging the government to give them permission to start receiving bookings from the fourth week of September. Since the private sector has a near monopoly in the transportation sector due to the government’s weak presence, the suggestions of the transportation companies matter a lot when the government reaches a decision on the matter. “Demand for bus tickets increases significantly during Dashain. Ticket bookings should be opened well in advance to make sure that there are no hassles,” said Dol Nath Khanal, general secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE). “We will request the government to let us start receiving bookings from September.”
As per a rough estimate, 1.5 million people stream out of the Kathmandu Valley to return home to celebrate Dashain with their families every year. Last year, 3,500 buses were pressed into service to transport people from the Capital to their villages and back.
Transportation entrepreneurs say that the number of buses has increased by 15-20 percent this year which will make things a bit easier for travelers. “The new buses are luxurious. People will have a better travel experience this Dashain,” Khanal said.
The number of travelers is expected to dip this year, according to the DoTM. “The April 25 earthquake has displaced a number of petty traders and low wage workers from Kathmandu. Since they are already outside Kathmandu, there might not be much congestion.” Adhikari said.
Meanwhile, the government has tied up with a noted IT company in the country, F1 Soft International, to sell tickets online for which payment will be made through e-sewa in a bid to make things more convenient for travellers.
Source: The Kathmandu Post