5-11 July 2013 #663

Government capitulates

Makar Shrestha in Kantipur, 2 July

The interim election government has been derelict in its duty to provide reliable service delivery and going against the interest of citizens. It has been allowing the disruption of the delivery of basic needs and supporting the demands of those who are out to cheat the public. The latest most egregious example of this was the agreement it did with deep well water suppliers and bottled water manufacturers who had brought water to a parched capital supply to a standstill for four days.

The reason for the strike was that the suppliers were angry that the government had started inspecting the quality of the water being sold and cracking down on overcharging water tanker operators. Instead of carrying through with the inspection, the government buckled under pressure of the businessmen running the water business.

This has made the government the leader of the cheaters. Premlal Maharjan of the Consumer’s Association says the consumers are being punished because the government is weak. “The government’s presence is centred on private profit and on the businessmen running the water suppliers,” Maharjan says, “the government appears too weak to protect the public interest.” Exploiting this weakness, milk, gas, gold suppliers have all been protesting government action to ensure quality.

Gold shops closed down because the government inspectors found irregular weighing machines and adulteration of gold, and they demanded that they should not be punished. Then when the milk supply was found to be contaminated with coliform bacteria, the government couldn’t even push through with an investigation. Similarly, taxi drivers have gone on strike demand the right to ply without meters and to charge passengers whatever they like. Now gas suppliers are threatening a strike to demand an even higher commission than what the government has already agreed to in return for their half-hearted attempt to implement the two-tier cylinder scheme. Then the UML transport union shut down five districts east of Kathmandu protesting the right of traffic police to pull up violators.

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