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Students face challenges as public vehicles don’t allow them in

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Jhapa, January 6, 2017: Around 150 students of Shiva-Satakshi municipality commute to schools and colleges in Surunga and Birtamod in Jhapa. The majority of these educational institutions don’t have transportation facilities of their own.

Also, the public vehicle operators don’t let them get into the vehicles easily. They simply don’t stop the vehicles after seeing a student waiting for the bus. Students often complain of the problems caused by the unruly behavior of the transport entrepreneurs.

The public vehicle operators are not letting the students ride the buses as they have to give discounts to them, whereas a normal passenger pays full bus fares.

About 15/20 students from there travel to Kankai Secondary School, Surunga on a daily basis. Dipesh Khadka, an eighth grader is one of them. He feels it despairing to face transportation problems on his every trip to the school.

“The buses don’t let us in, and don’t bother to stop even if we signal them to stop,” he complained. After waiting for 15/20 minutes on the stand, he says, he gets into the bus mixing with the crowd of other people. It’s even harder for him while returning home in the evening. “In the morning, there are fewer passengers, and buses allow students to get in,” he shares, “But, in the evening, there are crowds of people to ride the bus. So, none of the vehicles allow us in,” complained Khadka about the hardship he has to go on a daily basis.

Roshan Khadka, who studies in Damak Model College too rides public vehicles to reach his college. He also shares a similar bitter experience like Dipesh. “We have a group of students to go to college from here. But, the buses don’t stop at the stand after they see us,” he shared, adding, “Instead, the drivers of the vehicles stop it some 200 meters ahead.”

Not only the students coming from Shiva-Satakshi, but almost all those from various regions of the district are victims of this problem.

Student leader Santosh Upreti mentions of getting complaints from students saying that public vehicles haven’t been letting them in. “We found that one bus didn’t use to let students ride it. And, we held a discussion and convinced them for a couple of times. But, still, they didn’t change their behavior. But, they have started to allow students ride the vehicles as we talked to them about the punishments for such a behavior,” Upreti shared about what they had to do to convince the transport operators to let students commute through the vehicles.

Ranjan Dhamala, President of Creative Nepalese Youth too has experiences of numerous of such complaints about the bullying and arrogant behavior of public vehicle operators. “The problems have been arising because of lack of effective investigation about their unruly behavior. We should start investigating the sector by forming a team from both the government and students side to make it effective, and solve the problems of students who have been going through it every day,” he said.

But, Rajendra Rijal, Mechi Zonal Coordinator of Transport Entrepreneurs’ Association of Nepal puts a different opinion. “Government has a provision of 45% discount. But, many students aren’t even willing to pay that little amount. They expect to ride the buses for free,” he said, adding “Many find it hard to pay even 10 rupees for a distance in which a general person has to pay 30.”

Gautam Sharma Siwakoti, Secretary of Higher Secondary Schools Association, Nepal (HISSAN), Jhapa district also shares similar thoughts. Seconding the opinion of Rijal, he says, “Students feel that they can have snacks on daytime if they could save a little amount of the bus fare. So, they try to give a lesser amount as bus fair.” Siwakoti also says that problems arise when a large number of students ride in a single bus, as the bus fare collected at a discounted rate would be relatively less, landing the vehicle owners into problems.

Siwakoti mentions the necessity of having an interaction between students and transport entrepreneurs. “Both the students and entrepreneurs need counseling. The problem arises because of the lack of understanding,” he said, adding “Students also should ride in different vehicles, in smaller groups. And, public bus operators too need to understand the problems of students.”

Meanwhile, Ranjan Dhamala of Creative Youth opines about the allocation of different seats for students in public vehicles. “It would be easier if there is a provision of allowing a fixed number of students in a single vehicle. If we make it possible for that to happen, students themselves will distribute among different buses,” he shared.

By Gaurav Pokharel