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‘I am not a Pathao driver’

‘I am not a Pathao driver’

Among the busy crowd of bustling Kathmandu, I corner my scooter aside to the pavement and check my phone for calls. A pedestrian prances along and asks ‘Pathao ho?’—I deny. Just minutes later the same question was asked. I retorted, “I am not a Pathao driver.”

It sure becomes infuriating when I am a college student waiting for my future to clear out like the Kathmandu road but am nagged with people when I come to a halt. Their only assumption of me being a Pathao driver is the arachnoid mobile holder—I don’t have it, and yet again the question is presented.

I take off my helmet to act cool and nonchalant but people can be brave and reluctant with hurried questions. They are more disgusted by me not being the driver much more than I am pretending to not be one. The questionnaires are used to being asked by the drivers in a larger monopolistic way to take anyone from anywhere to everywhere.

Are people not phased with the threats that come with offline usage? The rampant entrusting of your security is whittled to a stranger. According to some customers, platform-based ridesharing fills an important void in the poorly provided and poorly functioning public transport sector of Kathmandu (Pg-21) yet the trust is frayed. You can only rely on the Nepali hospitality and humility. It is widespread now, for walkers to save money and go off the record with the vacant pillion seats as much of the fares demanded are lessened offline.

Section 8 (2) of the Vehicle and Transport Management Act 1993 states that no private motor vehicle shall be used for the transport service.  Section 12 (1) of the Act also states vehicles registered for one purpose cannot be used for another. So, I can’t be malevolent, can I?

The website Pathao clearly mentions that the riders are ‘not the employees of Pathao’ and are based on a freelancing model and only the concerned individual parties shall be solely responsible for the claims, judgements and liabilities that result from any accident, loss or damage, and not the company or Pathao. 

Another famed app InDrive, mentions on its General Terms of Use that any decision to offer or accept the Services is an ‘independent decision’ made in each user’s sole discretion at the user’s own risk. InDrive has a plus point as passengers offer the price and the drivers counteroffer seemingly as a colloquial Nepali style of bargaining. Less fares yet the company is not responsible for any damages or losses incurred. The initial fare, as should be determined based on a minimum distance of three kilometers. 

Some of these drivers are incautious and unwary of the traffic around, as they swerve across lanes without giving a side light increasing the risk to not just the passenger but to other common drivers and pedestrians. I know this because I have ridden on one.

The ride-sharing companies do give ample employment but the malice and greed of the drivers to earn a little bit more ruins everything. Even mixing in the honest working class.

Wonder if I could charge the galling people with my expensive petrol money… or play the bargain game which I am bound to lose. But unfortunately, I am not a Pathao driver.

The author is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication at St Xavier’s College, Maitighar