Clear roads, footpaths of encroachment, local levels told

Kathmandu, January 5

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has issued a circular to all metropolitan cities, sub-metropolitan cities and municipality, directing them to clear encroachment on roads and footpaths without any delay.

The circular was issued today in response to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority’s concern about the rise in road accidents in Kathmandu Valley and other urban areas due to rampant encroachment on roads and footpaths, the MoFALD informed.

The anti-corruption watchdog had drawn the attention of the authorities towards encroachment by auto workshops, street vendors and petrol pumps which are causing difficulty in traffic movement and smooth mobility of pedestrians. Good Governance Promotion Section of the MoFALD said the local levels were told to initiate legal action against encroacher as per the existing laws.

According to the circular, local levels will also pull their socks to bring to book people dumping construction materials on roads and footpaths. Such encroachment has not only hindered hassle-free mobility of pedestrians and smooth traffic movement but has also ruined the beauty of the city.

According to Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, footpath encroachment in major as well as inner roads is contributing to traffic congestion and road accidents. Moreover, pedestrians have no option but to walk on the road, putting their lives on risk. Pedestrians spilling over into the roads due to encroachment of footpaths is a common sight in Sundhara, New Baneshwor, Bhotahiti, Ratna Park, Koteshwor, Swoyambhu, Kalimati, Kalanki, Balaju, Sitapaila and other places in the capital.

But city authorities have largely failed to keep vendors off sidewalks. Footpaths are often occupied by small-time businesses where they don’t pay any fee. If caught, the municipal police confiscates the wares from vendors and fines them Rs 500 before returning their goods. The fine is increased up to Rs 1,500 for second or third time offenders. People’s attraction towards cheap goods has also encouraged street vendors to set up stalls on footpaths and roads, according to MTPD.

The Municipal Police Bylaw has prescribed 29 different functions, duties and powers of the municipal police. They have been tasked with removing obstruction on footpaths and roads, preventing encroachment of public places, issuing order to demolish structures constructed in contravention of the prescribed standards, catching and auctioning stray cattle, stopping sale and distribution of food items unfit for human consumption, controlling social malpractices and protecting the assets of local levels, among other things.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had declared that the government had successfully removed street vendors from footpaths in the Valley on November 2014. But the move did not last long and street vendors started encroaching on the city’s sidewalks again, hindering pedestrian movement and ruining aesthetics of the city.