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NBSM introduces taxi billing system

Kathmandu, December 1, 2016: Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) is formally introducing taxi billing system from Monday, in its bid to discourage cab drivers from fleecing their passengers.

Under the system, passengers will be given a receipt at the end of the journey which will state the distance covered by the vehicle, the registration number of the taxi and the fare. The receipt can be used as evidence to file complaints against taxi drivers who misbehave with their passengers or overcharge them or trace a cab in which passengers have forgotten their belongings.

In the first phase, the system will be implemented in new taxis that have recently come into operation.

NBSM Director General Bishwo Babu Pudasaini said the bureau will start installing the system from December 5 in cabs that come to renew their metres. Cab operators have to renew their metres every year.

The system will be made mandatory for all the taxis following the  success of the pilot project, according to Pudasaini.

There are around 10,000 taxis in the Kathmandu Valley, according to NBSM. Of them, an estimated 1,000 cabs have old metres that are not compatible with the new billing system. Pudasaini said these taxi operators will be given adequate time to replace their old metres with new ones.

The bureau said cab drivers have been found overcharging passengers by tampering with metres. However, travellers cannot file a complaint for lack of evidence.

The Metropolitan Traffic Police Division record also shows increasing number of complaints against cab drivers involved in cheating passengers.

Last month alone, NBSM, at the recommendation of the Traffic Police, took action against 82 taxi drivers involved in either overcharging customers, or tampering with metre. As per the Nepal Standards Act 1980, NBSM can charge a cash penalty of Rs500-Rs5,000 against such wrongdoers.

Cases of taxi drivers overcharging passengers are mainly encountered at locations such as hospitals, bus parks and airports, including Tribhuvan International Airport, where disembarking air travellers have no choice but to take a cab. Cab drivers also capitalise on the shortage of public vehicles during festivals and Nepal bandas.

Besides the traffic police, NBSM also checks taxi metres. According to the bureau, it inspects up to 40 cabs per week and 2 percent are found to have metres that have been tampered with. Last year, it had checked metres of 225 cabs in the Valley.

Last month, NBSM had formed a technical team to determine the method of the billing system. “During a consultation with cab drivers, most of them were found positive on installing the billing device,” Pudasaini said.

By Rajesh Khanal