October 17, 2023
KATHMANDU – Police on Monday took 86 offline drivers of Pathao and inDrive, the ride-hailing apps, under control from different places in Kathmandu amid complaints of their involvement in criminal activities and increased risk of security to passengers.
The District Police Range, Kathmandu issued a notice stating that offline drivers were found involved in various criminal activities in recent times heightening risk to passengers.
“We request the public to avoid using offline rides,” the police range said in a press statement.
Asheem Man Singh Basnyat, managing director of Pathao Nepal, said they have received emails from different police offices to suspend the offline drivers. “We will act according to the police directives.”
The Pathao drivers caught by the police on Monday for offering offline rides have been suspended, Basnyat said.
The police had informed the company about the growing offline rides six months ago.
According to police, a woman was killed in a shop in Kapan a few months ago and an offline ride was used.
A scooter was hit by a bus in the Machhapokhari area where a pillion rider died during treatment and the offline rider fled.
The police said that the rider is under their control and have been investigating the matter.
Ridesharing companies said that some of their drivers were found haggling with riders.
“Even the passengers have been complaining to us about the harassment by offline drivers. But as we don’t have data on offline rides, we were unable to take action,” said Basnyat.
SSP Dinesh Raj Mainali, who is also the spokesperson for the Kathmandu Valley Police Office, there are many complaints lodged against offline drivers, including not dropping passengers at their destinations and theft of goods at night.
“We have been monitoring and controlling offline rides since Sunday.”
“The drivers offering offline rides have been suspended,” said Mainali.
According to Pathao, there are around 150,000 registered drivers with the company and they conduct an average of 60,000 trips daily.
Both the police and ridesharing companies requested the public not to take offline rides.
If someone randomly offers a ride, people can complain to the police by providing the bike number and the location, the police said.
Taking offline rides will make it difficult to track the drivers/riders if there is an incident or accident.
“It will also be difficult to claim the insurance for the treatment in case of an accident,” said Mainali.
Swayambhu and Balaju are the key places where many offline drivers are active, according to the police.
The Auditor General’s report published in April said ride-hailing companies are proliferating in Nepal and they have been making good income, but they are not registered, and nor do they pay taxes.
International ride-hailing service inDrive has been arranging 29,300 rides daily and has an annual turnover of Rs2.11 billion. But it is operating informally, the report said.
As per the audit report, there are 25 ride-hailing companies in Nepal using the Global Positioning System and digital platforms, but none of them is registered for what they are currently doing.
Carrying fare-paying passengers in a vehicle registered for private use is illegal and the vehicle must be registered, operated, managed and inspected as per the law.
The government has yet to bring laws to govern ride-sharing apps.