The elderly should have been rejoicing. After all, the government decided to provide them 50 percent discount on public transportation in the Kathmandu Valley.
But none of the elderly citizens staging sit-in in front of the Department of Transportation Management (DoTM) for the last two years looked happy. Instead, they were shouting slogans saying they would continue their protest.
“The government might have thought that we would call off our protest if it provided us 50 percent discount on short-route public vehicles. But we are not going to withdraw our protest,” said Chet Kumari Karki, an elderly who has been regularly participating in the sit-in protests for the last two years.
The 64-year-old Chet Kumari said they will continue their protests until the government provides 50 per cent discount on fares of both short and long-route public vehicles.
Kamal Jung Sahi, another elderly, who came from Dailekh to take part in the sit-in on Monday, said, he felt discriminated against when he learnt that the government announced 50-percent discount on public transportation for the elderly in the capital.
“It is said all are equal before the law. But this is discrimination. If elderly in the capital get discount on public transportation, why not us?” complained Shahi. He also stressed that the government should provide 50-percent discount to the elderly across the country.
“Fifty percent discount on short-route vehicles means nothing. We get 10 rupees discount on each trip. We would have saved a lot more money had we also been given discount on long-route vehicles,” said Gam Bahadur Chettri, 66, another elderly.
On August, 2013, the DoTM had directed all public vehicles, especially buses and minibuses, to reserve two seats for the people above the age of 60 and provide them 50 percent discount on fares. But the directive has yet to be effectively implemented in and outside the Valley.
Maha Prasad Parajauli, president of the Senior Citizens´ Joint Struggle Committee, also said that the concerned authorities have been ignoring their demands.
“None of our demands have been addressed properly. We will continue to struggle until our demands are met,” he said.
Every day, around 50 elderly citizens gather at Minbhawan to stage sit-in.
Apart from the discount on public transport, senior citizens have been demanding separate ward and discount for them at hospitals, both public and private. Likewise, they have also been demanding a hike by Rs 500 in the social security allowance. The elderly are given Rs 3000 a month as social security allowance. “We will ready to die for our demands,” said Parajuli.