Traffic congestion getting worse

Kathmandu, August 4

It normally takes a motorist a few minutes to cross approximately two-kilometre Lokanthali-Tinkune stretch when traffic on the road is light. Commuting the stretch takes about half-an-hour during the morning and evening office hours, from 8:00am to 12:00pm and 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

People of Bhaktapur district had hoped that installation of traffic lights would ease traffic congestion along the road. But, traffic police, instead of installing more traffic lights across the city, have started disrupting a handful of traffic lights that were functioning earlier.

A couple of months ago traffic lights were installed at New Baneshwor Chowk. When the lights were functional, commuters waited only for around two minutes to cross the road. But, these days as the traffic police have switched the lights off, commuters are obliged to wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes for their turn to cross the road during office hours. Similar is the situation in Maharajgunj and Chakrapath where traffic lights are no more operational. Until the past few months, only Baneshwor and Maharajgunj had working traffic lights.

Traffic police said larger sections of valley roads didn’t have traffic lights and a handful of traffic lights had  made it problematic to manage traffic flow. Therefore, they had to disable the traffic lights. Superintendent of Police at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division Rabi Kumar Poudel said, “There was no point to  put a couple of traffic lights in operation, when traffic police were  manually managing traffic throughout the valley.”Increasing number of vehicles are adding to traffic congestion on valley roads every passing day but, none of the traffic lights inside Kathmandu and Lalitpur are functional. Only two traffic lights installed in Bhaktapur district remain functional.

In March last year, traffic police had installed half a dozen ‘smart traffic lights’ inside Kathmandu, of which four had gone kaput after few months. Not a single fully functional traffic light exist inside the Ring Road.Around 1,350 traffic police are working inside the valley for traffic management. Among them, as many as 675 are deployed on the streets to manage traffic. These traffic policemen manage an estimated one million to 1.2 million vehicles plying on Kathmandu valley roads.  Moreover, they are also required to clear the road for scores of VIPs each day, making sure they do not get stuck in traffic.

SP Poudel said despite their few numbers, the work traffic police were doing was extraordinary. He added that only an Integrated Traffic System could reduce traffic problems in the capital. ITS is a traffic light system where scores of traffic lights can be simulated through a single operating system, where its algorithm can be handled as per congestion in a particular area.