Posted by: Surendra Shakya June 21, 2020
Pandemic a boon to Nepal government, authority
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Leave it to the Nepal’s politicians to make it clear to the world how irrelevant they are to the ordinary people and the plight they are facing since four months ago. Instead of helping the people, they are bent on profiteering and making light of the situation, and diverting the issue by joking and making absurd claims.

The primary purpose of any government is to provide security for its people and then create good governance to make people able to do anything they want to improve their lot. This needs high moral integrity and leadership that consists of self-reliant and visionary leaders that show the path through their own sacrifices. In Nepal, the opposite is true.

Coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity to give people of Nepal a sense of their government’s ability and concern for them. That was not to be. The intention seemed to be  to use it for profit from the beginning. The first scandal was on the purchase of medical equipment through their associated group called Omni.

The government blundered its management of lockdown period at an epic scale. Three months later, the situation became even dangerous and frightening. Things became worse after the lockdown was loosened. Thousands of Nepalis were stranded in the countries where they had gone to work or study. The only thing they wanted was to be back in their own homes to tide over the pandemic.

People were getting emotional and angry.  Fearing that the people’s disenchantment might turn into open revolt, the lockdown has now been loosened. It is ironic. When the threat was low, lockdown was imposed in a strict manner, but now when the threat has skyrocketed, no precautionary measures are in place. People are acting as if Covid no longer poses a threat. What is going to happen now is that people will live with this threat and accept the casualties as they might come.

Schedule for Nepalis stranded in 34 countries was published on June 11. Shockingly, the flight fare was increased by up to 300 percent. Nepal government saw lucrative opportunities in two main aspects of the returning policy. First, the airlines, and second the 14-day quarantine for the returnees.

324 passengers were the first to fly from Kuwait City in two flights. Then other countries followed. The reality came out that the minister of Culture, Tourism and Aviation had a setting with three travel agencies and only they were authorized to organize the chartered flights. Passengers were complaining about being charged three times the normal price and not even receiving the receipt. What was more absurd was that when the Jazeera Air offered to bring in Nepalis free of charge, their permission was canceled. So, this shows the intention of the concerned ministry with no doubt left. However, people filed a case in the Supreme Court and got a ruling that the Nepal government had to bring in the migrant workers free of charge.  After this ruling, Nepal embassies are getting active in charging airfare to workers overseas, up to Rs. 20,000 higher prices than normal. For this, the embassies asked for permission to use foreign airlines, instead of Nepal airlines. Along with the migrants, 23 corpses have also been brought in to be handed over to their families.

If it was not enough, an additional scandal was created regarding the quarantine stay. The report came out that the government was choosing expensive hotels over the cheaper alternatives. The government decided that those returning home would have to pay for their own stay in quarantine hotels in Nepal selected in Chitwan, Bhairahawa, Pokhara, and Kathmandu.

People have been speaking about the dual standard and discrimination by the Nepal government in repatriation. When the 174 students trapped in China were rescued four months ago, they were all provided free service for travel and quarantine. But the poor workers in the Gulf countries who have run out of money and have faced hunger are being sucked out of their earnings and savings.

It is easy to observe the trend and the intention of those in authority by their action and policy in this time of distress when people are falling into hard times. Instead of trying to understand their pain and offer assistance in every possible ways, Nepal government has done the opposite; It has prioritized commissions over compassion.

It has been proven many times that “Police my friend,” slogan was false. The same can be concluded about the Communist government.

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