The Office of the Auditor General has blamed the sorry state of roads, traffic pressure, mechanical condition of vehicles, overcrowding of passengers, lack of adequate knowledge on the part of drivers, passengers and pedestrians, and rampant violation of traffic rules for the alarming rate of increase in road accidents.

The 58th annual report of fiscal 2019-20 submitted by the OAG to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Friday warned that road accidents had increased by an annual average of seven per cent in the fiscal 2017- 18. They further soared in the fiscals 2018-19 and 2019-20 by 22 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. As many as 2,006 people were killed in 10,015 road accidents in the fiscal 2015-16, 2,384 people in 10,178 cases of road accidents in 2016-17, 2,541 people in 10,965 road accidents in 2017-18, 2,789 persons in 2018-19 and 2,225 persons in 15,554 cases of road accidents in 2019-20.

With each passing year, not only the causalities but also the number of road accidents have increased.

The OAG found negligence on the part of the authorities concerned, drivers, transport entrepreneurs, passengers and pedestrians responsible for the increase in road accidents and casualties. The OAG has also found faults with the authorities concerned, drivers, transport entrepreneurs, passengers and pedestrians for increase in the number of casualties in road accidents.

"The tendency of issuing permit to vehicles without completion of road construction, lack of effective regulation of driving licence, poor implementation and compliance with traffic rules and plying mechanically unfit vehicles have aggravated the situation," said the report. The OAG has also urged the government to improve road engineering and regulate the traffic pressure to curb road fatalities.

"Arrangement of adequate number of pedestrian crossings, parking lots, traffic lights, CCTV monitoring system and traffic signs as well as awareness-raising programmes will aid in the reduction of road accidents. It seems crucial for the authorities concerned to adopt these measures to combat the serious problem of road accident," it suggested. The report has also recommended that the government make the provision of effective and timely rescue operation and primary care of persons injured in road accidents to reduce the number of causalities.

Road density in Nepal is considered to be the lowest among south Asian countries.

Of the total of 12,493 km of roads, 51 per cent are paved while 36 per cent are earthen and 13 per cent gravelled.

Nepal needs to invest an estimated extra $879 million in road safety over the next decade to halve its road crash fatalities, as per a new World Bank report on 'Road Safety in South Asia: Opportunities for Shared Regional Initiatives' released by the World Bank in 2020.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 23 2021, of The Himalayan Times.