HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Commuters risking their lives hanging on to the door of overcrowded public transport vehicles is a common sight in Kathmandu Valley.
It appears that drivers of public vehicles do not care a fig about the action that could be taken against them for flouting safety measures. Apparently, the presence of traffic cops on the streets doesn’t matter.
Traffic police frequently try to come clean rubbishing the allegation that public transport vehicles mostly flout the rules on the streets and only pretend to be complying with the law along the routes where there are checkpoints. Contrary to what traffic police officials say, public vehicles continue to ferry passengers in a manner that endangers their lives.
DIG Ganesh Raj Rai, in-charge of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, conceded that public vehicles tend to violate traffic rules more often than private vehicles due to financial motivation. “They rarely worry about the safety of passengers when it comes to making a fast buck. All they need is money, which can be made by packing their vehicles with passengers,” he argued, adding that traffic cops were taking action against rule violators as per their capacity and resources.
According to statistics, the current strength of MTPD is 964, which is a ratio of one traffic cop for every 1.6 km road and around 726 vehicles in the Valley. DIG Rai pledged to step up action against public vehicle drivers who carry passengers beyond their capacity. However, they will become free by just paying a petty fine of Rs 200.
He underscored the need to shun the practice of hanging on to the door of overcrowded vehicles and appealed to the people to travel safely. Yogendranath Karmacharya, president of Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs, rubbished the allegation against drivers and blamed the ‘defiant passengers’ for making the vehicles more vulnerable to untoward incidents. “We never force passengers to travel by hanging on to the door. What do we do when they prefer to do so rather than wait for other vehicles? Passengers, especially the youngsters, fall upon drivers and helpers if they tell them not to risk road accidents during rush hours,” he said. Karmacharya advised the public to travel.
Prasanna Thapa, a resident of Purano Baneshwor and a bachelor level student at a Chabahil-based college, is one who does not care about travelling safely from his house to college every day. “Every time I wait for a microbus I see it packed with passengers. It is a risky to travel hanging on to the door, but I have to reach the college on time,” he stated.
Though road fatalities in the Valley has decreased by 15.5 per cent in the fiscal year 2011/12 compared to 2010/11 thanks to the crackdown on drunken driving, authorities and concerned stakeholders still have miles to go to take on all types of traffic rule violators.
Altogether 148 people died in accidents in 2011/12 against 171 in 2010/11. However, the number of road accidents increased to 5,096 in 2011/12 from 4,914 in the preceding year.
According to records, negligence on the part of drivers accounted for 76 per cent of road accidents followed by reckless passengers and pedestrians, mechanical breakdown, poor road condition and stray cattle (24 per cent).