Belittling reason

It is shocking to learn of the tragic passenger bus mishap in Hansapur VDC of Arghakhanchi district that killed 17 passengers and injured 11 others. The bus had swerved from the road and plunged 300 metres down into a gorge. The cause of the accident has been attributed to the narrow road. These types of mishaps continue to occur without let up because of the dangerous roads in the hilly terrain which means that travelling by bus under the circumstances can be risky. Therefore, there should be all out efforts to build safer roads so that accidents such as the most recent one in Arghakhanchi could have been averted. This might entail more expense and labour, but in the end this would be worth the effort in reducing fatal accidents. The roads should be designed and built by competent engineers who must put safety features of the roads uppermost. Were this to be done then the incidence of tragic accidents would come down significantly, and road travel would not mean putting your life at stake. These days most people are apprehensive of travelling by road.

The government should see to it that vehicles are allowed to operate only on roads that meet certain safety standards that would have to be set. The criteria should be very strict, and there should be no compromising on the requirements. Safe roads are thus necessary to prevent many accidents. However, when we look at most of the hill roads in the country, particularly in the remote areas, they are not roadworthy, and hence there are frequent accidents often taking a heavy toll of human lives and maiming many others, like the Arghakhanchi incident and the bus ramming into pedestrians in Chabahil or similar fatalities in Pokhara a couple of days earlier. Furthermore, heavy vehicles using roads meant for smaller vehicles can be inviting disaster. The government should step in and not allow transporters to operate passenger buses on such routes. Here, concerns for safety should be the overriding consideration for allowing vehicles on the roads.

Apart from the condition of the roads, there are other reasons for accidents. The vehicles are often overloaded and the drivers are inebriated and not fit to drive. And then there is the habit of many vehicle drivers to flaunt the traffic rules while driving on the highways and crossing all speed barriers. Even in the capital city, there are disturbing frequent reports of accidents involving vehicles travelling at high speed. The drivers are responsible for this, and such offending drivers should be reprimanded, and, analyzing the severity of the offence their driving licenses should be confiscated, and necessary legal action taken against them in the larger interest of those commuting by vehicles or using the roads as pedestrians. Meanwhile, one matter that often crops up after tragic accidents is the matter of compensation. These days vehicles are required to have third party insurance. But, it is often found that the families of the accident victims are not satisfied with the compensation provided by the insurance. The government should do the needful so that just compensation is dispensed and the erring drivers do not get off lightly.

Hell of a way

The findings of a 2008 survey on tobacco use and alcohol consumption among 15-64 years in 15 districts points to an alarming rate of adherents.

The puff of a simple looking cigarette is enough to set the smoker on the path of acquiring a host of diseases, including that of the heart, lungs, pancreas and the like. This is a serious indication of the state of affairs wherein tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, bidis, etc. and alcohol can be easily bought from the innumerable vendors and shops along the roads and alleys in almost every nook and corner of the country. The fatal popularity must be nipped because people in the most productive years are seen to be highly vulnerable thereby costing the country much in terms of lost manpower and huge inputs in health services.

Unlike smoking, a small amount of good quality alcohol has been referred to be beneficial for health. But, the reference is to low grade alcohol beverage, or spurious ones that seem to flood the market, that are freely available that are the biggest concerns. But, the sealed variety is no different if the trend is to go for one too many. Raising awareness and legal sanctions may act positively.