Nepal | January 26, 2021

Restriction on pillion-riding affects mobility

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The government’s decision yesterday to ban pillion riding as part of its plan to gradually ease lockdown has upset pillion riders on two-wheelers.

Despite the government’s ban, Kathmandu streets today witnessed considerable number of pillion riders. They were spotted engaging in heated discussion with on-duty traffic cops, who stopped two-wheelers for violation of the new traffic rule.

Santoshi Thapa, 40, works at a private firm at Suryabinayak, Bhaktapur. She left for her office riding pillion on her husband’s motorcycle at around 9:00am today. But, traffic police personnel got her off the motorcycle for riding pillion against the rule. It dampened her spirit of attending the office after more than 80 days of strict lockdown that restricted mobility. “I and my husband live together, but are not allowed to travel together.

It’s is ridiculous. This rule reflects the lack of flexibility, tolerance and far-sightedness on part of the government,” Thapa said. However, the ‘rider-only’ rule has not been an obstacle for some lawmakers, who got lifts on motorcycle to go to the Parliament Building at New Baneshwor. Even police personnel were also seen riding pillion. The ban on pillion-riding has directly affected mobility of women, children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities, who depend on two-wheelers of their kin and friends to travel from one place to another. Motorcycle or scooter is a primary means of transportation for middle and lower income families in the valley.

“This move has deprived us of mobility even at difficult time when ban on public transport is still effective amid the lockdown.

Pillion riders are among the family members or close friends. We don’t offer lift to unidentified persons. Therefore, the government should scrap this rule immediately to ensure freedom of movement,” Gyanendra Sharma, 36, of Gaurighat said.

Senior Superintended of Police Bhim Prasad Dhakal, In-charge at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, said it was the responsibility of traffic police to enforce the decision of the government. “We are trying to convince the riders to follow the rule for their own safety. We have no intention to trouble them and restrict their mobility,” he said.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 13, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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