KATHMANDU, APRIL 3
Nepal Police has started a pilot project to check driving under the influence of psychotic drugs and other contraband.
Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur, which started the project on the day of Holi on March 29, has expanded to other places as well.
Police headquarters, after its successful drive against drinking-and-driving, has come up with a new campaign to control drugged driving. Police say that the new project will not only help control the number of accidents but also decrease the trade and consumption of psychotic medicinal drugs or other substances.
Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur, on the day of Holi had conducted drug test on seven suspicious riders. Of them three were found driving under the influence of drugs.
Senior Superintendent of Police Kiran Bajracharya at MPR, Lalitpur, said, "We were surprised with the test results, and it proves that many people, mostly youths, drive under the influence of psychotic drugs in Kathmandu valley." She further said that checking for drugged driving drastically decreases accidents, and helps control rampant use of contraband.
The police confirmed the cases of drugged driving through urine tests. Such results come within a minute and are 99.9 per cent accurate as per the police.
"For now we are conducting urine tests of only the suspected persons," SSP Bajracharya said.
Although police do not have exact data to prove how many accidents are caused due to the consumption of drugs, Nepal police often find that young bike riders injured or deceased in vehicular accidents had consumed narcotic drugs. The police headquarters has also directed Kavre police to conduct a similar test in Banepa on truck drivers.
The trucks that ply the Banepa-Koteshwor road have been notorious for causing fatal accidents after the operation of the eight-lane road here.
SSP Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, spokesperson for Nepal Police, said that they had begun the drug testing campaign in Banepa after receiving complaints that truck drivers, who are mostly below 30 years of age, drive on the route under the influence of narcotic drugs. However, the tests conducted on seven drivers showed that no one was drugged while driving.
Police said that tests for drugged driving is a daunting task as it requires the police to arrange public toilets on the roadsides to collect urine of suspected drivers/riders. Similarly, the rapid test kit used for test can only detect use of certain psychotic substances such as marijuana and some common medicinal drugs like Diazepam, Phenergan and Nurofen. Another challenge for the cops will be ascertaining whether the driver is freshly drugged as the kit will show positive results even if the driver/rider had used the contraband a week ago.
One test kit costs Rs 150 and various police ranges have said they lack the budget to buy the test kits.
A version of this article appears in the print on April 4, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.