Public transport vehicles that are more than 20 years old are banned from the streets of Kathmandu from today. Old buses, microbuses, mini-buses, taxi cabs and other motor vehicles bearing black license plates are no more allowed to operate in the capital. The ban will not be applicable to private automobiles. Old public vehicles are banned in a bid to reduce air pollution, road accidents and traffic chaos in the valley.
Transport entrepreneurs have said that such a move is unreasonable. President of Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE) said that they have demanded the government to provide a certain amount of compensation to the owners of old public vehicles and allow very compassionate tax waivers in vehicles import. However, the government has refused to fulfill their demand.
Due to lack of any integrated database, there was no exact data on the number of vehicles older than 20 years that are still operating, informed Tokraj Pandey, spokesperson for DoTM. After rounds of discussions with various ministries and stakeholders, the government had published a notice exactly two years ago informing that public vehicles registered before 1997 would be banned from operating in the valley from March, 2017. And today, as per the government’s announcement, all the old public vehicles are being banned in the valley.
The decision to ban old public vehicles will also be enforced outside the valley from March 2018. DoTM has estimated the number of vehicles outside the valley at around 3,000.
“Banning old vehicles will certainly help as they are one of the worst sources of air pollution, emitting microscopic particulate matter that has proven to be very hazardous to health,” said Dr. Khem Karki, member secretary at National Health Research Center (NHRC). “However, our ultimate goal should be to reduce the number of vehicles altogether through the promotion of mass transit systems. A lot more still needs to be done in the war against air pollution.”
Additionally, if any old public vehicles are found on the street of Kathmandu from today, the vehicles will be seized and also will be charged with 1-5 thousand rupees.