Law to regulate ride-sharing services by April

- Timothy Aryal, Kathmandu

Jan 18, 2019-

The Department of Transport Management is introducing a new law on Nepali New Year 2076 (April 14, 2019) to govern and regulate ride-sharing services operating in Kathmandu, department’s Spokesperson Gokarna Upadhyay said on Thursday.

Upadhyay said the officials have been working on the new law for over two months. “We are concerned about letting ride-sharing platforms operate inside the Valley by making necessary provisions in the new law,” Upadhyay told the Post, adding that the specifications of the law have yet to be finlised.

A government crackdown on ride-sharing platforms like Tootle and Pathao this week met with severe criticism, with many saying they were providing convenient transport services in Kathmandu where public transport systems is in a sorry state. The government agencies had reasoned that the ride-sharing platforms were using private motorbikes to ferry people, which a 26-year-old law does not allow.

 There were also calls from many to amend the law as per changing times. Issues related to passengers’ safety and insurance schemes also made it to the discussion.

Nonetheless, following public outrage against government action, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Wednesday ordered the transport ministry to let the ride-sharing companies operate. Upadhyay, however, said the process to formulate a

new law was under way for the past two months and that it was not the effect of

the prime minister’s order on Wednesday.

Asked why it took so long for the department to come up with a new law while Tootle has been operating for over two years, Upadhyay said his office was unaware of the platforms providing services to the passengers “illegally”.

The department officials, however, are yet to have talks with the ride-sharing platform operators about the insurance policies regarding the safety of the clients.

Over the past weekend, as many as five ride-partners were detained by the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division on charge of illegally carrying clients on two-

wheelers bearing red number plates—privately-owned vehicles—and announced a crackdown on the ride-sharing services.

It is not clear how the department and the ride-sharing companies will find a way out or how the department through its new law will bring these companies under transport companies, as they are currently registered as tech companies.

Sixit Bhatta, co-founder of Tootle, said that he had not received any official call from the department about the introduction of the new law. “We are ready to discuss and lobby with the government to establish ride-sharing

platforms as an industry itself,” Bhatta said. “There was no insurance policy that could be applied on platforms like ours when we started. As of now, there is just the blanket insurance policy that covers only the rider.”

Shashank Thapa of Pathao also said that the company has not yet received any official statement from the transport management department about plans to introduce a new law. While Tootle is a Nepali company, Pathao’s parent company is based in Bangladesh, which recently introduced insurance policies that cover both the rider and the client.

Pathao’s insurance policy in Bangladesh covers accidental death benefit, permanent total disability, accidental hospitalisation and natural death benefit and their compensation ranges from BDT 50,000 to BDT 100,000.

Published: 18-01-2019 08:09

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