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Everyday rickshaw puller and taxi driver face difficilties in capital

Tourist Police, in association with Nepal Tourism Board, on Thursday invited taxi drivers and rickshaw pullers of Kathmandu to an interaction programme to discuss their role in tourism promotion.

The event was organised in view of the Visit Nepal Year 2020 when the the government targets to bring in two million visitors to the country.

“The first person a tourist meets and interacts after landing at airport is a taxi driver. So you have to be disciplined, helpful and honest,” Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of the Department of Tourism, urged the taxi drivers present in the programme.

Ghimire also requested all cabbies and drivers of tourist vehicles to follow the uniform code prepared by the department.

Ghimire said“Before marking 2020, we are going to introduce a dress code and identity cards. We request everyone to follow the dress code and carry the identity cards,”

The taxi drivers, meanwhile, expressed their dissatisfaction at the government’s failure to control private vehicles picking up tourists from the Tribhuvan International Airport.

“We have already started pre-paid taxi service for tourists at the airport. The service allows foreigners to pay the taxi fare at the airport counter in advance so that they are not overcharged or fleeced. But despite the service, private vehicles are picking up tourists from the airport. These private car operators have been cheating foreigners, and no action has been taken against them,” said Purusotam Simkhada, who has been working as a taxi driver for the past 25 years.

Rickshaw drivers also shared their own set of problems.

“We have a limited space to operate our rickshaws. On top of that, the authorities have designated no-entry areas in many areas where foreigners are most likely to visit. How can we survive if we are not allowed to operate our rickshaws. The government should ban all vehicles from entering Thamel and Basantaur Durbar Square and introduce rickshaw service there,” said Hari Prasad Gautam, who has been pulling rickshaw in Kathmandu for the last 12 years.

Saroj Sitaula, secretary of Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs, said raised the issue of revising the taxi fare.

“It’s been over six years since the government last revised the taxi fare. Everything has become costly over the years, but taxi drivers are compelled to offer service at the same rate that was set six years ago,” said Sitaula.

Chief of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division Basanta Panta and In charge of  Tourist Police Amrit Bahadur Basnet requested all to work together to bring reforms and promote the tourism sector.

“Many tourists have shared their bad experience with taxi drivers in the past because they tend to overcharge and try to fleece them. I request you all to be more responsible,” said Basnet.

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