Nearly a year back, electronic city rickshaw is newly launched means of transport to the market of Biratnagar, which provides better service economically. Despite being very much affordable and comfortable to the passengers, these rickshaws are not able to increase compare to its popularity and quality service because of facing barriers to entry by the local authorities (Traffic and Biratnagar Municipality) and Department of Transport. Recently local authorities and department of transport have stopped registering the new rickshaw limiting the quota of 300 rickshaws, which create new city rickshaw barrier to enter in the market and earn their living. Besides the quota, there is nearly 300 more city rickshaw in operation in the market, which does not have registration. Because of not having registration, it is not so easy to earn their bread and make their living in the market. They have to face a lot of harassment by the traffic police. The restriction has forced them to sticked a printed slogan “Gari Khana Deu” (let me earn my living!) and “Ki ta Number Deu, Natra Jaagir Deu” (Either Give us the Registration Number, or Give us Employment) in the back and front of the rickshaw.
For economically deprived country like Nepal, these means of survival keeps great importance. But this kind of barrier to entry has created obstacles to those who want to make a living pursuing this job. It also has left the large number of passenger without choice, which forced people to use the same old means of transport that is bit costly compare to city rickshaw. Keeping this in mind, we thought to highlight the issue and sensitize the larger masses on the topic.
After having discussion with city rickshaw drivers, dealers and Makalu television, we come to a common agreement to set a public hearing program on the issue. The program was organized at the venue of Makalu Television on the date of 10 July 2015. The title of the program was “City Rickshaw as a Problem or Solution?” Superintendent of Police Mr Nar Badhur KC from Regional Traffic Office, Mr. Arjun Thapaliya from Biratnagar Sub- Metropolitan, Mr. Raghubir Sah from Department of License, and Ganga Dhakal from the City Rickshaw Association were called as a speaker for the program. Also Good numbers of city rickshaw drivers, sellers, trade union representatives and common people were the part in the program. The objective of the program was to make the authorities holders listen to the problem of the city rickshaw drivers/owners and dealers, and ease the policies which creates hurdles to their livelihood. Besides this, program motto was to sensitize the larger masses on the issue.
It was a hot debated program, where poor city rickshaw drivers put their frustration and problems in front of the concerned authorities. Government authorities doesn’t seems sympathetic even hearing the poor people voices, they keep on saying that government will continue its restriction on city rickshaw and no new registration will be opened till few years. But after receiving much pressure from the public, Superintendent of Police Mr Nar Badhur KC from Regional Traffic Office says that, they may think to settle down the issues of registration for those new city rickshaws which are already in operation without registration and license, if those rickshaws get the registration permission from Biratnagar Municipality. Representative of Biratnagar Municipality Mr. Arjun Thapaliya said that they do not have any motive to give the new registration at this present time, but he said that they may think after settlement of 300 registered rickshaws. He also said that Municipality are positive to see the outcome of Bikalpa ongoing research findings on the issue. Mr. Raghubir Sah said that there is no proper guidance and rules about the city rickshaw, once the it is finalized, they do not have any problem giving the license to the city rickshaw. Abhay Rai, moderated the entire program. Bikalpa coordinate to organize the public hearing program.
Bikalpa – An Alternative is conducting research on “Barriers to Entry” of City Rickshaw in Biratnagar, which will help us to find out the problem and its impact on the broader level. We want to see how the barrier to entry has created impact on the livelihood of the rickshaw drivers/owners. We also want to see what is the cost of barriers to entry to the general public.