TibetanReview.net, Jan 23, 2008
The viability of the Lhasa-Kathmandu bus service has again been brought into serious question with Nepal’s state-owned Saajha Yatayat dispatching its first bus to Lhasa on Jan 1 under a service resumption agreement without any passenger on board. Although many Nepali and foreign tourists had bought tickets, they could not undertake the journey because the Chinese embassy did not issue them visas and gave no reason why, reported Nepalnews.com Jan 2.
The bus service was supposed to resume on Jan 1, 2008 on the basis of an agreement signed between representatives of Saajha Transport from Nepal and Himalayan Transportation from China in Nov 2007.
The service, which was begun on May 1, 2005, had remained suspended since 2006. Saajha Yatayat has said it was forced to send its bus just with a driver and a helper on board at 9 am on Jan 1 “just to respect the agreement”. Under the agreement, two buses, one arriving from Lhasa operated by China and another run by Sajha Yatayat from Kathmandu, are to be operational every week. The Three-day, 955-km de luxe bus service costs $70 for a ticket against the airfare of about $400.
The much-hyped Kathmandu-Lhasa direct deluxe bus service, for which China and Nepal had signed an agreement way back in 1994, has been a victim of Chinese government’s draconian visa regime meant to guard entries to Tibet, the report said. It noted that Beijing issues visas only to tourists travelling in groups, that too after stringent scrutiny.
Meanwhile, China’s online Tibet news service en.tibet.cn (Title News) said Jan 16, “the bus from Kathmandu to Lhasa started working in time on 10 am, January 15.”