Valley’s transportation system : Better coordination needed to clear the absolute mess
Kathmandu, February 25:
When it comes to traffic, everybody in Kathmandu can experience the chaos. What the people don’t know is that there are several bodies in Kathmandu trying to resolve the issue. But these bodies have neither the vision nor the ability to coordinate their efforts.
The only way out, at this stage, is for the public to step out and put pressure on the government.
With no authorities coming up to manage the Valley’s chaotic transport system, the youth wing of the CPN Maoist — Young Communist League (YCL) — have volunteered to manage the system by deploying several dozens of their cadres at the major junctions.
But they never knew that the root of the problem lies somewhere else. Their seasonal efforts seem to have been driven by political propaganda to win the hearts of the people and that never lasted long.
In the words of Khagendra Mani Pokhrel, the director general Department of Transport Management (DoTM), the transportation system of the Valley is a mess partly because the KMC has failed to address several key issues.
According to Pokhrel, the government is considering to leave the public transportation system to run under the free market policy. The bus stops are not chosen through scientific means and the existing taxi parking areas are under dispute. Even the transport entrepreneurs are operating very old vehicles against the DoTM’s expectation.
“We are waiting to have the existing law on transportation amended to manage the transport system of the country,” Pokhrel said. “We are discussing with the bodies concerned to sort out all the problems.”
General Secretary of the Federation of Nepali National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE) Krishna Prasad Adhikary stressed on the need for coordinated effort.
The federation believes that the coordinated efforts of Traffic Police, DoTM and the FNNTE would only solve the existing intricate problems of the transport management of the Valley.
Pokhrel blamed the KMC for not appropriately maintaining the Bus Parks, which are under its control.
But the chief executive officer of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Dinesh Thapaliya said the KMC has leased the New Bus Park to Lhotse Multipurpose Pvt Ltd and is studying the complaints against the LMPL.
Night service of public transportation is essential for the public and the government should provide the service with appropriate security measures to the commuters in the late evening.
Public vehicles stop plying after 8 in the evening, except taxis. The cabbies charge exorbitant fare, mostly around double the usual fares, as soon as the public vehicles disappear. The transport entrepreneurs, however, claim that they would operate public vehicles in the late evening if the government could provide necessary security. The only problem is that of coordination between the transport entrepreneurs and the home ministry.
The absence of state-owned public transport service has resulted in privately-run public transportation entrepreneurs enjoying monopoly in the matter of fares.
Earlier, Sajha Yatayat used to help maintain transportation fares sticking to the government rates. Public vehicles run by the private organisations even charged double the rates fixed by the government, especially those that ply in the long routes. Revival of the services of Sajha Yatayat buses in the Valley would become a relief to the public.
The government still lacks a scientific method to fix the fares as proportionate to the frequent hikes in the price of fuel. Also, there is no effective government mechanism to check and maintain the fares.
Some 600 three-wheelers run by rechargeable batteries ply on different routes of the Valley charge comparatively less fares than the vehicles run by the fossil fuel. Despite the indifferent behaviour of the government, the Electric Vehicles are doing good business and are also improving their services by introducing better models. Government should promote the development and sustainability of these environment-friendly EVs and the Trolley Buses, as they would help reduce pollution in the Valley to a large extent.
MTMP and Inner Road Networks
The only metropolis of the country, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), has just announced to come up with a plan to develop Metropolitan Transport Master Plan focussing on the road network. The KMC authorities are preparing to develop physical land use plan that may take years to complete owing to the snail-paced working style of the government officials. This indicates that the KMC may take few more years just to develop the Master Plan alone.
The KMC, however, has focused this year’s budget and plan on maintaining and developing the inner road networks within its territory that could contribute to the smooth flow of traffic.
KMC, in coordination with other authorities had developed bicycle lanes in the Gongabu area spending millions, but even that was not effective.
The way ahead
The number of vehicles is increasing by 13.1 per cent every year among which 60 per cent of the vehicles are registered in the Bagmati Zonal Office and runs in Kathmandu Valley. The extension of the road network in the Valley is limited.
With the constant increase in the population of the Valley, it is high time the government comes up with a long-term vision and policy to systematise the Valley’s transport system at a time when no authority seems to have a long-term vision besides maintaining effective coordination among the concerned bodies.