The Department of Transport Management’s (DoTM) new rule to discipline errant taxi drivers could suspend their driving licence for six months.
The department’s new rule aims to fix rogue drivers who flout fare and other rules with impunity.
The DoTM has promulgated the new rule to fix unscrupulous taxi drivers in Kathmandu Valley. A majority of rogue taxi drivers refuse to ferry passengers as per the digital meter fare. Most drivers haggle with passengers over fare. Many refuse to ply for short distances while others demand three to four times more fare at night.
As per the department’s plan, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) will monitor and keep records of errant drivers. If the driver violates the fare rule for more than five-time, his licence would be impounded.
MTPD Spokesperson SP Jay Raj Sapkota said, “The department will suspend the taxi driver’s license for six month based on our recommendation.”
According to Sapkota, the traffic police generally fine taxi drivers Rs3,000 for violating any fare rules.
MTPD officials said they have been counselling taxi drivers each time they visit the division to pay fines. However, defiant taxi drivers break rules even after paying the fine.
“The problem is very few passengers overcharged by the taxi driver visit the traffic police office to complain,” said Sapkota.
MTPD data shows police officers fine most taxi drivers either for refusing to ferry the passenger to his/her destination or charging high fare.
In the current fiscal year, the MTPD has fined taxi drivers 1,175 times for refusing passengers’ request and 1,334 times for charging high fares. It has also fined taxi drivers 50 times for tampering with the taximeter and 37 times for using a non-registered taxi.
A Nepal Meter Taxi Association official said taxi drivers are compelled to charge more money since the government agency responsible for updating meters has failed to carry out its duties.
Association Chairman Arjun Prasad Gautam said, “While the government has increased the taxi fare by 10 percent, the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology has not upgraded meters that would enable us to levy the new fare.”
Many taxis are still waiting for their turn to upgrade meters, as there are more than 11,500 taxis in the valley, he said.
Traffic police have said they will not fine the taxi drivers for asking 10 percent more fare if their meter has not been upgraded.
“We have asked for the list of taxis in which the meter has been upgraded,” said Sapkota.
Police said people can report if a driver refuses to take them to their destination, does not use meter, tampers with the meter, asks for more fare later, using foul words or behaves indecently.