Ending The Transport Syndicate

Kushal Pokharel

The persisting syndicate in public transportation has received severe setback in the past few weeks. The present government for the very first time has taken some bold initiatives to abolish the monopoly of the transport entrepreneurs. With the commitment of the transport minister to end the syndicate existing in taxi and other similar means of commute, positive message has been circulated among the general public. Based on the current progress of the government, it will be wise to believe that the scenario can change for other sectors too. In fact, this is the most visible sign shown by the present government to really deliver in action what it has promised.

Court order
While the past governments had also reiterated the significance of ending syndicate, no concrete actions were taken. Even the Supreme Court’s decision some 18 years ago had ordered to eradicate this system. Furthermore, in rare situations when the bureaucracy stepped forward to punish the dishonest transport entrepreneurs, political patronage always came to their rescue. On the contrary, this time the proper co-ordination among the bureaucrats and the government ministers has borne visible fruits. With the department chief of the transport management publicly lauding the present cabinet for lending support, in his move of bringing the monopolists under the domain of the national law, the government’s intention has become obvious.
By scrapping the transportation committees and requiring all the transporters to register under the Company Act, the government has adopted a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy sending shockwaves among the transport elites. With the aim of managing the transport system, the government has already started the provision of a separate dress code for drivers and plans to strictly implement the provision of separate seat for women and senior citizens in public transport vehicles. In this context, the transporters are in conflict with the state and conducting various obstructive activities and resorting to unlawful means to make the government bow down as in the past. But this time, it is less likely to happen as the government has clearly moved towards abolishing this system in all spheres of national life.
Needless to say, the general public has a tough time riding through the public transport in Nepal. People are left with the Hobson’s choice to hurriedly jump into the crammed buses that are so insensitive to the commuters that they even don’t bother of any accidents that might occur while picking and dropping the passengers in such a reckless manner. Moreover, the type of humiliation that one has to go through while being in the bus over the issue of the transport fare and other general matters is really painful. Based on the personal experience and observation of this author, it can be rightly said that the public vehicles treat humans as a mere object and don’t even have an inch of responsibility towards its passengers. In other words, the competition for profit overrides every other aspect. So much so that there is no stopping even at the cost of inflicting severe damage- physical as well as psychological on the riders.
With the high-handedness of a certain section of transport entrepreneurs in dictating every rule of the transport system such as the route of commuting; the authority of issuing permit for new entrants among others, the syndicate system has flourished till date. Taking undue advantage of a weak governance system in the past, they had literally challenged the state bureaucracy and government and made mockery of the rule of law. However, with the government adopting stern measures this time to tackle this problem, it will be difficult for them to talk to the state authority in due manner from now.
This type of positive action on the part of the government needs to be replicated in other sectors of economy too. Ranging from shopping malls, departmental stores to other such private sectors such as banking and service industries, syndicate strongly prevails. Amid this scenario, the customers have merely been treated as goods rather than valuable clients.
Without catering to the interests of the handful of people working in every sector, the government should seriously think of the broader welfare of the community and adopt a non-compromising posture for the same. This will increase the credibility of the government on one hand and on the other the public will breathe a huge sigh of relief in the direction of getting a fair treatment.

Instead of agitating against such a socially beneficial move, the disgruntled transporters need to exhibit greater honesty and morality and co-operate with the government. Otherwise, they will only be discarded from the society. With the willingness to take corrective actions in the future, they can again resume their business based on healthy competition adhering to the rules of the state.
Equally crucial will be the role of general public to help institutionalise this system by showing decent behaviours and adhering to the state’s policy of reservation in the public transport. Reporting the issues of deception and manhandling by the drivers and conductors should also be continued to make them more responsible and accountable.

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