In the last fortnight alone around one hundred people have been killed in the lethal road accidents in the country. Around four dozen people were killed in Triveni, Nawalparasi, as the bus skidded off to plunge in the Gandak canal.
This was followed by an accident at Krishnaveer Dhading when a Kathmandu bound passenger bus coming from Udayapur crashed into the Trishuli river. This devoured around two dozen people, and many were said to be swept away by the raging Trishuli. Last week, a minibus veered off the road to crash down the steep slope in Narpani of Arghakhanchi that claimed around one and half a dozen people. In this spiral of the fatal road
accidents, the latest one
occurred at Palpa in which 13 persons- kids and adults- of the same family perished. Almost all who had travelled in the ill-fated vehicle that was heading to a village at Gulmi were killed, and
the charred vehicle was spotted only after six hours of the accident.
One can imagine the intensity of shock, grief and sorrow it causes to the traumatized and aggrieved family members whose own kin and kith were unsuspectedly and unimaginably chewed by accidents in the flash of seconds. The brunt of the life killing accidents is exclusively borne by the family members and dependants as some loose their bread earners or others are bereft of their guardians and custodians. Needless to say, the road accidents have become commonplace in Nepal. These do often times pass off unnoticed and unreported. Even the public response to the news of such accidents and killings has been dull and usual as these occur too quickly to come to acknowledgment.
In Nepal, road safety data base maintenance system is very poor, and the latest multi- year comparative statistics are not at hand to arrive at any cogent conclusion. But based on the increasing trend of an uninterrupted and unchecked occurrences of the fatal road accidents, one can say that road accidents have been on the rise in the geometrical proportion.
According to the statistics one million people are killed and 50 million injured in the road accidents in the world annually. Nepal must be counted as among the countries where the world’s highest rate of road accidents occur if measured against the available road network density. At the South Asia level, Nepal has the poorest road network density even falling behind Bhutan. According to the data, 1734 people were killed and 11000 people injured in the road accidents in 2009/2010 AD which according to the road safety analyst is alarming considering the poor, skewed and sparser road network density available in the country. According to the WHO Report ninety percent of deaths on roads occur in low and middle income countries like India and Nepal, as rich and developed nations have been able to lower deaths in the accidents. In India, there is one accident every minute , three serious injuries every minute and one death every five minutes. Road accidents, according to the recent estimates, are increasing by eight percent in the developing countries like India and Nepal.
Arindham Chaudhari, editor- in- chief of The Sunday Indian Newsweekly (July 29, 2012) writes about the Indian context ( which Nepal shares in common).
“While with only a mere 12 million vehicles we in India have about 114,000 deaths on Indian roads per year, with about 250 million plus cars in the USA they have only 41000 fatalities per year. That is, in India, for every 100 cars we have one road death, in USA there is one road death for every 5000 cars.”
If the road accident deaths per number of vehicles plying in Nepalese roads are analyzed, the
figure could be much
more appalling to surpass the Indian case. Many factors can be attributed to the cause of road accidents, as pointed out by the road safety analysts, in the countries like Nepal In the Indian case, drunken rash and reckless driving has been said to be responsible for the majority of road accidents. In the context of Nepal too, alcohol laced and unskilled navigators at the wheel are definitely reasons for the road accidents.
But when the nature of accidents in the Nepalese highways are minutely
assessed, it is found, among others, that the poorly
designed and deficiently constructed guardrails or bunds erected along the edge of the highways to offer levers to the vehicles from falling down the steep terrain tend to cause road casualties and fatalities.
The Prithivi Highway has been the major site of accidents where the vehicles- buses, cars, trucks etc- veer off the road to fall down into the Trishuli river. In almost all cases the ill-fated vehicles plunge into the rivers after ramming into the guard rails or bunds erected along the edge of road.
The poorly reinforced and designed bunds or ramparts cannot prevent the vehicles from slipping down the steep and ravine terrain
into the Trishuli. If the bunds and rails were reinforced and constructed properly, many road accidents could have been averted and the eventual fatalities could be minimized.
It is the duty of the Department of Roads to look into these minor but critical safeguards, but, to our
utter dismay, the responsible authority is always apathetic and irresponsible on this count.