Discomforts galore in valley microbuses

Kathmandu, November 30:

Jam-packed microbuses are a usual sight in the Kathmandu Valley. Microbuses, which can barely accommodate 20 passengers, can be seen plying the streets with up to 40 passengers packed like sardines.

“I take a microbus everyday to reach my workplace in Chabahil and usually I am the first one to get in. But the conductor keeps on adding passengers beyond capacity to rake in more money. It becomes very hard for us. But there is nothing that we can do,” Maya Thapa, a regular commuter, said.

Men, women, elders and children are crammed inside the microbus without considering how uncomfortable they would feel. The situation even reaches to a stage where women are often subjected to indecencies from prying men.

“Once I was travelling from Pulchowk to Singha Durbar. A man sitting next to me kept groping me. When I turned to look at him, he retreated but started off again as soon as I took my eyes off him,” said Ambika (name changed).

As per the Transportation Act, passengers in a public vehicles should not exceed the number of seats. But no one is following the rule here.

“No one complains as long as they reach their destinations. We try to accommodate more people during peak hours because we don’t get many passengers during daytime,” Bishnu, a microbus conductor, said.

Traffic policemen posted at key junctions of Ratna Park and Nepal Airlines Corporation building have tried to control the situation, but to no avail.

“We are not aware of any rules regarding the number of passengers in a vehicle. We do not interfere as long as the vehicles have their doors shut and people are not hanging from them,” said a traffic policeman.

DIG Bhisma Prasai of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division said passengers themselves needed to act if they were being harassed or it was inconvenient for them. “We have controlled many instances like passengers perched on roofs and hanging from doors,” he said, adding, “If people, who spend money, are not complaining, there is nothing that we can do.” He added that they had tried to control such malpractices but had to bow to the pressure of transporters’ union.