Transport operators in the Koshi zone have been running public transportation vehicles in a newly opened rough track without route permit from the authorities.
The syndicate like transportation services is provided in various routes that connect with rural villages of the zone. Transportation along these roads are highly risky as they are yet to be properly constructed, but still vehicles carry hundreds of passengers everyday along these routes. The police and other concerned authorities remain mute.
Vehicle operators are well aware of the underlying risk still they don’t refrain from providing transportation services to passengers who in their desperation make risky journey everyday. “Yes, the route is very risky. But we have been plying through it,” said one operator. “We are hardest hit when accidents occur as in lack of route permit we cannot make insurance claims,” he added. Insurance companies cover accident losses only in areas where they have road permits. “Therefore, even if a passenger lost his life in an accident, the insurance company will be providing no compensation.”
According to Koshi Zonal Transportation Management Office, vehicles have been granted route permit to operate only from Basantapur’s Terathum to Dhankuta’s Hile. But some vehicles have been operating from Basantapur through Myanlung, Tutedeurali to Sankhuwasabha’s Chainpur and Khandbari. Similarly, operators who have permits only for the route in Hile have been traveling through Leguwa to even villages in Bhojpur.
Transport operators have also admitted that they have been running vehicles without a permit in the routes of Dhankuta’s Jorpati to Chulachuli, Sidhuwa to Shukrabare, Jitpur, Hile to Chitang, Dharan to Rajarani, Budabare and numerous other rural villages. And these are all conducted against existing transportation laws.
A committee is formed in every district to provide recommendation including transportation fares and temporary route permits to vehicles willing to operate transportation services in a new route. Upon receiving such recommendations, the transportation office issues permit. However, Chief of Koshi Transportation Office, Bishnu Poudel informed that the office has not received any such recommendations from any of hilly districts of Koshi zone.
“We grant route permits only after confirming that the roads are in a proper state” informed Poudel. “The roads in the hills of Koshi zone are not in a condition to operate public transportation. In fact the transporter entrepreneurs are operating transportation services ‘forcefully’. It is the responsibility of Traffic Police to check such illegal activities and prevent possible accidents,” he added.
S.P Nar Bahadur KC, Chief of Eastern Region Traffic Police Office, said although it was illegal to run vehicles without a route permit, one should also consider the practicality of the situation. In saying so, he however maintained that he is unaware of the issue and urged everyone to report numbers of vehicles that provide such illegal services to the traffic police.
“The transport operators should be held responsible for any accident that happen in those routes,” he said. “But we should stop vehicles from operating without permits. They cannot provide transportation services without route permits. If you find any vehicles like that then please report their vehicle registration numbers to me,” he added.
Chief of Eastern Region Transport Operators’ Association, Saroj Shrestha defended the issue stating that the services were run by transport operators without route permits in response to local demands. “We are operating in those routes only because of the demand of the rural population” said Shrestha.
He further accused the government for failing to create transportation route that would be able to remain in operation throughout the year. Most of the routes that have not received permit can be used only during the winters. “We are not running vehicles because we wanted to violate the law. It was the locals and the VDC who requested for transportation after the track was opened. And it is not only in Koshi zone that routes without permits are in operation, such conditions exist throughout the nation” he said.