Install road safety signs before enforcing any rule: NHRC

Kathmandu, June 4

The National Human Rights Commission today said its serious attention was drawn to harassment and humiliation of pedestrians by traffic police in Kathmandu Valley.

The NHRC’s take on the action being initiated by traffic police against alleged jaywalkers comes in the wake of widening rift between pedestrians and the law enforcement agency over the latter’s recent drive.

The Metropolitan Traffic Police Division has been punishing jaywalkers with a fine of Rs 200 each or detaining them for three hours for a class on road safety since May 30.

Over 8,000 alleged jaywalkers have already faced the music from on-duty traffic cops so far. MTPD said this was part of its efforts to promote pedestrian safety and reduce road accidents. In response to complaints over harassment of pedestrians by the police, the constitutional rights watchdog today held a discussion with MTPD in-charge Mingmar Lama and other office-bearers to find an solution.

“During the discussion, the NHRC suggested the MTPD to instal necessary road safety signs, paint or repaint zebra-crossings in hospital and university areas and make arrangement of pedestrian crossings on the road distance as per the international standards before enforcing any rule,” read a press release issued by Mohna Ansari, NHRC member and spokesperson.

The rights watchdog said media and social networking sites monitoring carried out by it had collected the facts and data about persons, including OPD patients, examinees and elderly people, being harassed by traffic police.

The NHRC has also urged the government and all concerned agencies to make necessary arrangements to respect the dignity of general public and pedestrians while taking consideration of the walkability of the Valley roads, which are not pedestrian-friendly.

The MTPD has claimed it is taking action against jaywalkers as per the Sections 136 and 137 of the Motor Vehicle and Transport Management Act, 1993 to ensure that no pedestrian dies in road accident due to negligence and recklessness on his/her part. On-duty traffic cops provide the guilty pedestrians a cash receipt slip upon payment of fine.

According to a five-year (2011/12-2015/16) figure published by the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, a total of 737 persons were killed in road accidents during the period. Of them, motorcyclists and pedestrians account for 43 per cent and 41 per cent respectively. The combined percentage of casualty among motorcyclists and pedestrians so far this fiscal 2016/17 is 86 per cent of all road accidents.