Government to impound and scrap public vehicles older than 20 years
The government decision to put a ban on public vehicles older than 20 years is coming into effect from Thursday. Officials of Department of Transport Management (DoTM) said that all preparations have been made for effective implementation of the decision.
While environmentalists and government authorities have been saying that the ban would reduce traffic congestion, pollution and road accidents, transport economists expect that the decision will reduce fuel consumption.
The government had taken the decision back in 2015.
The DoTM has already instructed all its units across the country to make sure that public vehicles older than 20 years stay off the roads. The department has directed transport management offices across the country to implement the decision in coordination with traffic police, an official of the department said.
DoTM is currently collecting details of public vehicles older than 20 years from transport offices across the country. It had told its subordinate offices to furnish to the department details of vehicles older than 20 years registered with their respective offices by Tuesday.
However, officials of the department said that it could take about a week to compile the details sent by its units across the country.
“Nevertheless, the ban will come into effect from Thursday as planned,” Tulsi Ram Aryal, director of DoTM, said. “We have almost completed all the preparations. The ban will be implemented strictly.”
Aryal said that the government will impound and scrap public vehicles older than 20 years if they are found plying the roads. “The scrapping charge will have to be borne by the owners themselves. We will also recover outstanding dues from the owners,” he added.
Environmentalists have lauded the efforts to put a ban on old vehicles, stating that it would contribute in reducing pollution. Bhushan Tuladhar, an environmentalist and technical advisor for South Asia, UN Habitat, has said that the ban on public vehicles older than 20 years will reduce pollution, but not to a greater extent. “Old vehicles have older technologies which are not much environment-friendly. Moreover, vehicles are not maintained well in Nepal,” said Tuladhar. “So, it is clear that the ban on old public vehicles will reduce pollution. But that will not be very much contributing if we look at the extent of pollution currently.”
Saying that taking the old vehicles off the road alone is not enough, Tuladhar said that the government should focus on reducing pollution in various other possible ways.
Meanwhile, transport experts have said that such ban would contribute in reducing fuel consumption in the country. “The older a vehicle gets, the more fuel it consumes,” said Tulasi Sitaula, a transportation expert who also served as the secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructures and Transport. “In a country like ours where vehicles undergo less frequent maintenance, older vehicles become fuel inefficient.”
Fossil fuel is the country’s largest import. Nepal imported petroleum products worth Rs 140 billion in FY2016/17, according to a data of Department of Customs.
“Ban on gas-guzzling old public vehicles will definitely reduce fuel consumption,” added Sitaula.
DoTM has estimated the number of public vehicles older than 20 years at around 5,500. It has also said that documents of such public vehicles will not be renewed henceforth and route permits of such vehicles will be scrapped once the ban comes into effect. However, this is not the first time the government has made such an announcement. The cabinet had decided to ban public vehicles older than 20 years in the Kathmandu valley from February 28 last year. It is because of the ban that Kathmandu Valley has less than a dozen public vehicles older than 20 years, according to the department.