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Tootle/Pathao Vs Government: Are consumers the greatest looser?

Before we get into any detail, let’s first know a bit about both these companies (Tootle and Pathao) and their mode of operation. They connect the riders (ones with either a motorbike or scooter) to the consumer who needs to move from a location to another through the mobile application. In doing so, the customer is charged a distance-based price as displayed at the time of requesting for the ride and the riders paid the majority share of the amount received in return. With the traffic conjunction in the valley, they’re providing a quick and convenient ride to its user while also provided with job opportunities to youths who are otherwise often forced to leave the country in search of job opportunities.

As per the claims of both the companies combined and user feedback, following are some of the benefits that these companies/application provide:

  • Job creation – providing people with income opportunity in Nepal itself
  • Reduction of traffic in the road as people can rather book a tootle/pathao instead of taking another vehicle – one vehicle less.
  • Ease and convenience. Public vehicles are overcrowded. Getting a place to stand is a different concern.
  • Price of these rides is much lesser than the taxi fares where taxi drivers charge you whatever at random. With taxies not obliging to the fairs set by the government nor giving the invoice/bill – they provide a suitable, much economical alternative when you’re a single personal traveler.
  • You can choose the gender of your rider so as to ease things
  • These apps issue ride codes to the customers so that their pricing, location can be tracked online. Each of the ride is also tracked by the company with full detail of both rider and customer for security.

Looking at the sheer amount of positives they have to offer, you might be wondering – what’s the problem? Let’s dissect the incident and legislation further.

A few days back traffic police captured three bikes of the riders using Pathao app from Durbarmarg and had kept their bikes on hold. The situation got worse when these services were deemed illegal in Nepal. Motor Vehicles and Transportation Management Act 2049 has directly stated that the private vehicles cannot be used in the transportation service.

Here’s the brief about the law

Chapter 1 section 2
(j) “private motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle referred to in Section 8;

Section 8
8. Private motor vehicle
:
(1) A motor vehicle having obtained the certificate of registration for private use shall be called as a private motor vehicle.
(2) No private motor vehicle shall be used for the transport service.
(3) For the identity of a private motor vehicle, the vehicle shall have such a number plate on its front and rear side as set forth in Clause (c) of Schedule-2.
Clause (c): Private motor vehicle (relating to Sub-section (3) of Section 8):
It must be in white figures and letters on a red plate.

There even are questions raised about these two companies regarding their TERMS OF USE.

Tootle’s Term of Use extract:

For the avoidance of doubt, we are a technology company, not a transportation company and we do not provide transportation services. We do not employ the drivers and we are not responsible for any acts and/or omissions of the requests made through the application.

Pathao’s Terms and condition’s extract:

THE COMPANY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR THE ACTS AND/OR OMISSIONS WITH REGARD TO ANY SERVICES YOU PROVIDED TO YOUR PASSENGERS, AND FOR ANY ILLEGAL ACTION COMMITTED BY YOU. YOU SHALL, AT ALL TIME, NOT CLAIM OR CAUSE ANY PERSON TO MISUNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE THE AGENT, EMPLOYEE OR STAFF OF THE COMPANY, AND THE SERVICES PROVIDED BY YOU IS NOT, IN ANYWAY, BE DEEMED AS SERVICES OF THE COMPANY.

You = rider

Some serious questions have been raised against the government from various individuals and organization as the actions are based on the regulations formulated on 2049 B.S. when internet wasn’t even a thing in Nepal. But with the current advancement in technology, these and other such companies were certain to rise and the government should have anticipated. Here are some of the questions that has been raised by different online platforms, individuals in social media, and as discovered during interviews:

  • Why wasn’t the issue raised much earlier? With Tootle now in operation for just over, 2-years did the government didn’t know at all of the platforms yet?
  • Is the taxi drivers association of Nepal all worried about the more efficient substitute on the market that could hit their business so they are pressuring the government?
  • Isn’t it time for the government to make changes in those laws that were formulated years ago when technology was not even a thing in Nepal? With such fast-paced technological growth shouldn’t the act be amended to incorporate ease and encourage such useful ventures in the country

There are also a segment of people, who have raised question about these companies, those being:

  • People make an income out of this and you promote saying that a rider can earn 30,000 – 45,000 per month. Who pays the tax on these earnings? Shouldn’t the company or the individual rides held accountable for this?
  • What if the bike gets into an accident? Who covers the loss? Of the property? Or of the lives? It is clearly been stated that the company is not held responsible for any illegal action caused by the rider in their T&C itself. And even two-wheelers are the riskiest means of transport here

The entire situation is complex as of now but the question is a big one. What if these companies are closed tomorrow itself? Those tens of thousands of consumer who currently make use of the service, along with riders who depend on these platforms for their partial or full-time income would be derived from that. It’ll create chaos and only worsen the unemployment condition of the youths as several more would be added to the list. The number of vehicles paving the roads of Kathmandu would increase to only worsen the traffic conjunction issue along with pollution level. There are so many positives and negatives for both these platforms but given that that’s a fairly new technology in Nepal and is doing good to the people going by the reviews and feedback, should they really be stopped? What do you think of the entire situation?

The news piece doesn’t necessary represent Tyrocity position on the situation but is only the interpretation based on user reaction.

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