The Pushpa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party is holding a protest rally in Kathmandu today.
Protest rallies were taken out early morning from Pulchowk, Maitighar Mandala, Keshar Mahal, Tripureshwor and Jamal.
Activists from various districts across the country have been brought to Kathmandu to participate in the protest rally while the Dahal-Nepal faction has claimed that as many as 200,000 cadres will be deployed in today’s protest rally.
The main rally, however, is set to begin from Sundhara later in the day. Dahal and Nepal will lead the procession, which will turn into an assembly at Bhrikuti Mandap.
Meanwhile, public transportation came to a grinding halt from early in the morning today whereas private vehicles have been barred from plying the roads from around 10:00 am.
The unannounced and sudden shut-down of transportation has thrown Kathmandu’s traffic movement out of gear as people are forced to make it to their workplaces either on foot, or hail expensive cabs, or opt for ride sharing services.
Sagun Pradhan, Operation Manager at Tootle, said that the company knew about today’s protest and had prepared for the situation in anticipation of public inconvenience. The ride sharing app is experiencing a 40 percent surge in demand for rides as compared to other days.
“There are road blockages in various places, which has increased the completion time of all our rides. So, our riders are having difficulties to meet the increased demand. But, we are determined to make sure that all goes well and we haven’t upped the ride cost for our customers,” said Pradhan.
“The protestors, unlike during the last general strike, have not stopped our riders as of yet, so we are operating as usual,” added Pradhan.
Serpentine queues of people waiting for their daily public rides have formed in various parts of the city. While no vehicles are plying along almost all inner city roads, roads with a few vehicles are jammed.
A traffic cop, who did not want to be named, said that they did not know who had organized the today’s transportation strike but the cops had received an order from the “higher ups” to divert all public as well as private vehicles and clear the roads.
As Nepal’s communist leaders continue to claim that their dirty and expensive political rivalry is to ensure the rights of the working-class, it is the same working-class people who are at the receiving end of all the inconvenience and suffering.