Anup Ojha, The Kathmandu Post, February 06, 2018
The government has announced that ban on vehicles that are more than 20 years old will be enforced across the country from March 15.
The Department of Transport Management (DoTM), under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, said the rule will be strictly enforced with an objective to curb vehicle congestions, controlling air-pollution emanating from vehicle emissions and reduce road accidents that might happen with old vehicles plying on the roads.
This is not the first time that the government has made such a commitment, though. The decision was made in January 2015 to take vehicles which are older than 20 years off the roads.
On February 28 last year, the Cabinet banned public vehicles older than 20 years from operating inside Kathmandu Valley, but the decision was not implemented strictly.
The department has booked less than a dozen such vehicles in the past year.
DoTM Director General Rup Naryan Bhattarai conceded that the decision had been ineffective. “It’s because the owners didn’t bring out their old vehicles as we came up with the new regulation,” said Bhattarai.
Transport entrepreneurs claim that many people who own second-hand vehicles will incur huge losses if the ban is imposed without proper planning.
“Before imposing the ban, the government should provide customs subsidies and self-employment facilities to the owners of old vehicles,” said Saroj Sitaula, general secretary of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs.
According to the DoTM, out of more than 5,500 vehicles across the country 2,000 vehicles which are over 20-year-old. But unlike in the past, the department insists the ban will be strictly enforced this time around. The transport offices in all provinces will be carrying out inspections of vehicle documents with the help of traffic police, according to Director at DoTM Tulsi Ram Aryal.
“The documents of the vehicles older than 20 years will not be renewed nor will they be issued with road permits,” Aryal said, adding that anyone found violating this rule will be fined up to Rs5,000 under the Transport Management Regulation Act.
Aryal said, the DoTM in coordination with traffic police will conduct inspections three times a week in the Valley and once a week outside the Capital.
Environmentalists have welcomed the government move, saying that old vehicles is one of the major factors contributing to environmental pollution. “This announcement was in fact made two years ago, but the government could not implement at the time due to lack of political will,” said Bhusan Tuladhar, an environmentalist and technical advisor for South Asia, UN-Habitat.