27th September 2020
National Alliance for Human Rights and Social Justice (Human Rights Alliance) had initiated an online policy dialogue on The Effects of Covid 19 on the Informal Sector of Nepal on 21st July 2020 among labour organizations, trade unions, civil society leaders and concerned stakeholders to discuss on the major concerns in the informal sector. Continuing the pattern, Human Rights Alliance on 27th September 2020 organized another consultation meeting to discuss the effects on the travel and transportation sector, which was previously identified as one of the most severely affected areas within the informal sector. The program was chaired by Mr. Samir Nepal, Senior Vice-President of Human Rights Alliance and moderated by Mr. Bidur Subedi from Human Rights Alliance. The key speakers were Mr. Bhim Jwala Rai, the Chairman of Nepal Yatayat Swatantra Majdoor Mahasangh and Dr. Padam Shahi from the Department of Transport Management.
The agenda of the discussion was to identify the major effects of COVID and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the government in the transportation sector, particularly the public transportation sector and to identify the major policy issues and discuss possible ways of moving forward by minimizing the health risks. In the event, participants were from across the country and they raised their voices as issues which was suffering in the pandemic situation mainly transportation sectors, vehicles owner and labours. They reflected the effect of the pandemic as a mirror in the transportation sector of Nepal. Mr. Bhim Jwala Rai stressed that over 11 lakhs workers are involved in the transportation and the hindrance in the sector has not only affected them but severely affected the national economy.
The discussion concluded that civil society organizations need to take the lead role and policy advocacy and awareness building in order to minimize the effects of the pandemic and run the transportation sector smoothly. It was agreed that certain steps need to be taken to move ahead in this situation. For instance, the government needs to work on developing a new policy to adapt to the situation and minimize further risk in the transportation sector,provisions for subsidies need to be introduced and there needs to be proper coordination and flow of information between the central and the local levels of government to ensure that the policies are locally implemented. The major policy issues identified and suggested recommendations were forwarded to the Social Welfare Council by Human Rights Alliance for further policy action.
Mr. Bhim Jwala Rai, the Chairman of Nepal Yatayat Swatantra Majdoor Mahasangh, Mr. Dek Nath Gautam, Vice Chairman of Nepal Yatayat Byabasahi Mahasangh, Dr. Padma Prasad Khatiwada, Vice-Chairman of Social Welfare Council and Dr. Padam Shahi, Yatayat Wyasastha Bibhag were some of the key speakers of the program.