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Trekking workers unhappy with NTB’s job retention program

Young Porters of Mountain Expedition carrying heavy Bags using traditional Nepalese Head Straps on popular trek to Meru Peak. Sabai Valley, Solo Khumbu Area, Nepal. November 4, 2016

KATHMANDU: As per a commitment made by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA),the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) recently announced a job retention project for trekking workers in the mountainous region in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

However, trekking workers do not seem to be very happy with the proposal made by the tourism board.

According to NTB, more than 300,000 workers are directly working in the tourism sector, among which around 22,000 are trekking guides. “Thus, the job retention proposal is not enough for all those who have remained jobless for almost one year,” said Sharki Sherpa, general secretary of the Trekking Guide Association of Nepal.

“The job retention proposal of NTB is like trying to keep a child happy by offering a chocolate which is not fair,” he said, adding, “Project proposal is a relief for workers but the number of workers they have selected is not acceptable.”

In the initial phase NTB has prepared a project for only 250 workers. As per NTB, the workers will be deployed at the Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp and Mardi Himal Base Camp in the first phase of the job retention program.

The selection of workers will be made by the respective local governments. The project includes works related to cleaning the trail, renovating and cleaning the drainage system, among other works.

“There are chances that workers who are close to authorities in the local governments will be selected instead of qualified workers,” Sherpa said. “Those who are in need but do not have any political connection could be left out of the program as the number of workers that NTB is selecting is very low,” he added.

However, NTB has claimed that the project has just been started, thus the first phase will be implemented as a pilot project. “If the first phase goes well then the tourism board will continue with the project and deploy other workers.Otherwise we will look for other options,” said NTB CEO Dhananjay Regmi.

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