The Government is planning to allow mechanically fit old public vehicles to operate countrywide again.
Under pressure from transport entrepreneurs, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) recently tabled a proposal at the Cabinet to allow such previously termed ‘outdated vehicles’ to operate.
The rule of banning old public vehicles in Kathmandu valley (vehicles that are more than 20 years old to be precise) was implemented in the month of March 2017. Old buses, microbuses, mini-buses, taxi cabs and other motor vehicles bearing black license plates were no more allowed to operate in the capital. The ban was not applicable to private automobiles. Old public vehicles were banned in a bid to reduce air pollution, road accidents and traffic chaos in the valley.
However, backtracking from its earlier decision to curb old public vehicles, the Government will let the mechanically fit old public vehicle to operate if MoPIT’s proposal gets endorsed by the Cabinet.
Lawanya Prasad Dhakal, Director General at Department of Transport Management (DoTM) said, “Though we had banned such vehicle, we received a lot of pressure from the local and provincial governments and the private sector to allow mechanically fit old public vehicles to operate. Thus, we had reported this issue to MoPIT before Dashain.”
Meanwhile, Madhusudan Adhikari, Transport Secretary acknowledged that the proposal to allow mechanically fit old public vehicles has been tabled at the Cabinet. He said, “It is not that old aged vehicles necessarily pollute the environment while comparatively new vehicles do not. Mechanically fit old public vehicles can emit less harmful gases while a mechanically not fit new vehicle can emit more.”
Adhikari further informed that those public vehicles which are found to be in proper condition will be allowed to operate if the Cabinet gives a nod to MoPIT’s proposal. However, the government has said that such 20-year-old vehicles must pass the fitness test at government-run vehicle fitness centers.
Along with transport entrepreneurs, the rationale behind the government’s decision to ban old public vehicles had also been questioned by other stakeholders as well. The officials at the Department of Environment (DoE) had been saying that the Government should put a ban on public vehicles on the basis of vehicular emission instead of age if pollution is to be actually controlled.
Similarly, transport entrepreneurs had been demanding incentives from the Government for the ban imposed on 20-year-old vehicles citing that such decision had put their investment worth billions in the public transportation sector at risk.
The decision to ban old public vehicles was also enforced outside the valley from March 2018. If this plan to backtrack the ban and re-operate the mechanically fit old public vehicles comes into action, it will be applicable to old vehicles outside the valley as well.
News Source: The Himalayan Times