Public vehicles defying health safety measures increasing Omicron risks

Non-compliance of the health protocol set by the government for public transport has made the situation of COVID-19 even worse. Many public vehicles plying the Kathmandu Valley have been found not following the health protocols— not carrying passengers beyond seat capacity and managing facemasks and sanitizers—which has accelerated the infection rate, it has been said.

Balaram Koji, who frequently commutes in public vehicles between Kamalbinayak in Bhaktapur and Bagbazaar in Kathmandu, complained that he had to travel in a jam-packed bus without any other option irrespective of infection risks. “The more trouble I faced when returning home from Bagbazaar. I had to travel all the way home standing. I risked contracting the virus,” he lamented.

He accused the government authority of negligence in monitoring whether or not public vehicles have properly followed the health safety measures.

The Omicron variant has taken its toll in the country lately. So much so, over 10,000 infection cases were reported in the past two consecutive days.

The vehicles defying the health safety measures faced action, said Sanjib Sharma Das, Spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division. So far since January 15 when the drive to take action against vehicles flouting the health protocols started, 100 public vehicles defying the protocols faced punishment, he said.

A vehicle defying the health safety measures is fined between Rs 500 and 1,500.

The Division has urged the public to inform about the non-compliance of the health protocols by public vehicles at its toll free 103.

Though phone call was made time and again in landline number kept in the website of the Department to take the remark in this regard, it was not received.

Passengers complained that they could not put their complaint as the mobile number of information officer and spokesperson of the department kept at the website have also been removed.

Passengers have been compelled to pay high transport fare in public transportation than the determined by the government and this problem has not been resolved since long.

A passenger Karina Giri said that the Department failed to carry out activities paying attention on it. Though there is a provision in the Transport Management Act and regulations that transport fare should be taken providing ticket to passengers, it has not been found implemented since 2049 BS.

Only Sajha Yatayat provides ticket to short-route passengers. Passengers complained that the Department has been neglecting to implement this provision of providing tickets in all vehicles.

The passengers have been compelled to pay Rs 25 despite Rs 18 for four-kilometer distance determined by the government and Rs 20 while travelling only around two-kilometers.

Conductors do not return Rs 2 though Rs 18 is the minimum transport fare. Passengers do not want to quarrel with conductors and drivers for Rs 2.

Consumer Rights Campaigner Roshan Pokharel said that although the department has assigned an employee with a vehicle to monitor the public transport, but in vain.

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