Disruptions that are rare in Nepali market are no new to the rest of the world. Almost everything that is said to be new in Nepal, already exists in some other parts of the world. Further, we have failed to incorporate the disruptions for Nepali market that a few enthusiasts have tried to introduce in the country. Thus, for now, innovations are just limited in thesis papers, science exhibitions, and classroom projects of the colleges. When you ask me about what exactly I mean by disruption, the recent example that can best explain this is “Tootle”. As catchy and easy as the term “Google”, Tootle has forcefully disrupted the Nepali market by introducing a ride-sharing app for motorbikes. To add, Tootle flourished in such a way that it even added its international competitor Pathao within a short span of its operation. Unfortunately, the government has failed to incorporate such disruptive form of business idea while a large chunk of the city dwellers is wholeheartedly welcoming it.
We all know the chaos that Kathmandu has in terms of transport. Public buses are super unwelcoming. Private cars are still a luxury. And so, the only form of private vehicle that accommodates almost all income groups is motorbike. But the failure of the state to maintain the roads and the traffic is what keeps half of our mood-off in a day-to-day basis! We all know how it feels to face the traffic, inhale piles of polluted air and spend an hour to reach a destination that’s just six or eight kilometers away. Amid this frustration, Sixit Bhatta, founder of Tootle must have realized the potential of a ride-sharing app that could not only ease the problem of being compelled to squeeze through a microbus, smell someone’s armpit, or be bullied by the bus-helper to move back, turn left, and turn right, but also generate some income to the allarey thita-thitis and the unemployed or underemployed chunk of population.
Tootle as an idea was nothing new. Ridesharing apps existed all around the world even before Tootle was conceptualized, and probably hundreds of other people in Nepal already had this idea. However, the reason Tootle (followed by Pathao) get the credit, is their courage to implement and market the idea while there was no policy that governed this concept. Unfortunately, we still do not have one!
The gover-ment (yes, गोबर-मेन्ट)
Let’s talk about our gover-ment full of people with गोबर in their mind with a question: Tell me one government institution or corporation that made/makes money and is out of controversy. Begin with Nepal Airlines, Gorkhapatra Sansthan, Biratnagar Jute Mill, Nepal Ausadhi Ltd., or any other institutions except the banks and the insurance companies (who somehow make profit). I know, a die heart fan of our Oli ba or his party might have more than one example to beat me, but the whole point of asking is that whether or not we have been able to live a life that is normal. Normal in the sense you live a life where doing a regular 9-to-5 full-time job lets you live a life just enough to fulfill our basic necessities (food and water, shelter, clothing, sanitation, education, health for a family). I believe you get me, and agree with my answer which obviously is a big “NO”.
Let’s talk about the other initiatives that were taken by the state;
About ten years back, when I first got my drivers license for the motorbike it took me approximately a month to get the license (the card). The Department of Transport came with a better way to take the driving test and upgraded its procedure later. Thus, about 3 years back when I applied for an upgrade to get a permit for the car, it took me about 8 months, including a wait of six months, to appear on the “trial” and get the driving license card. Now, that my license has expired the government’s best of the best technology for printing “smart license” takes more than a year for a driver to get it. Further, smart license has existed for more then two years, but the traffic police has no tools to extract the data electronically. My team from the office did provide an extensive proposal to work on several traffic-related issues including this matter, but the traffic police department loved our proposal for only one reason: to showcase it as their future plan to the people above them in the command-chain.
I remember the traffic lights being a rare thing. They existed in few of the places including Singhadurbar and Thapathali. As the number of traffic lights grew, the number of these getting dysfunctional too rose. Now, that the government probably thinks the traffic lights are inefficient compared to the traffic police, none of the lights work on the roads of Kathmandu.
Masks weren’t a thing until ten years back in Kathmandu. The need for mask rose along with the expansion of roads and the growth in the number of vehicles. The state thinks expanding roads is more than enough then to maintain it. Sometimes I wonder about how the dozer-wala contractors are so quick in digging the holes on the road while none of the other contractors get their job done in time?!
Instance 132344 and many more:
Let’s not talk about Melamchi, it’s way too cheesy as an example. How about the syndicate that “doesn’t” exist (on the paper), or about metered taxis that (do not) travel in meters?!
The government is trying its best to accommodate start-ups like Tootle by forming a body of experts who recommend the government to ask the ride-sharing app companies and its riders to register a “black” number plate. This will allow a window of opportunity to form the black number plated motorbike association who will then deny to carry passengers and announce their demand to let the government allow them to charge as much fare as they want. After all its Nepal and good initiatives like Tootle are supposed to be too short in success.
Anyways, we already know what’s next. We all have a plan about how the country can develop within a few years. The experts with the blueprint for development can be found in all the chiya-pasals of the country. It’s just about implementation.
I just have a song for all us:
लौन के गर्ने, कसले के भन्ने !