Road expansion not the only solution to traffic jams: Report

Kathmandu, June 11

Road widening drive to solve traffic congestion in Kathmandu Valley is a flawed perception, and it is just a temporary solution, says report recently released by the Ministry of Urban Development.

“As long as the number of vehicles keeps increasing, road widening alone cannot help. The wise strategy would be to invest in public transport, which is still in poor shape in Nepal,” read the report ‘Inclusive Cities: Resilient Communities’.

According to the report, after nearly a decade-long gap, Sajha Yatayat, a transport cooperative (with majority shares owned by the government) resumed its services in 2013 with the operation of 16 large buses along two trunk routes in Kathmandu Valley. The fleet and services have since been expanded.

Private companies have also started operation of large buses in the Valley. Gradual improvement in the public transport sector in the Valley, hitherto dominated by small vehicles, notably and notoriously by micro buses, is a positive development.

“However, the sector still needs more investment and expansion not only in the Valley but also in other growing urban regions outside the Valley. In the last few years, cities of Nepal have experienced sudden rise in the severity of traffic congestion and accidents coupled with rapid deterioration of air quality,” the report said, adding it would take much more time and efforts to reverse the rising tide of traffic congestion. Only more coherent urban transport and land use planning can solve such problems effectively in the long run.

There is an inadequate emphasis on the use of public spaces, including road junctions and privately shared spaces, for creating vibrant urban ambience.

“With ease in transport, social and economic activities also flourish. Transport is the important determinant for the growth of cluster economy. However, asymmetric emphasis on developing transport network alone, without proper integration with land use – as is often the case – goes against the theory of planned urbanisation,” said the report.