Laxity in implementing the traffic rules and driver’s negligence are behind the growing number of road accidents
All 11 passengers were killed on the spot when a jeep met with an accident at Ratakatha cliff of Duhu Rural Municipality in Darchula district in far west Nepal at about 8 pm on March 1. The driver of the jeep, however, was critically injured and is undergoing medical treatment at a local hospital, according to police. The fatal road accident took place along the Darchula-Tinkar road section, and the jeep plunged into the Mahakali River. The jeep was heading for Duhu from Darchula’s district headquarters of Khalanga. The accident site is seven kilometres away from Khalanga. Police said the road leading to the accident site is perilous, and the Darchula District Transport Committee had imposed a ban on carrying passengers on the road two years ago because of its narrow width and steep slope, not technically fit for any vehicle to ply the road, which is still under construction. Police said the driver drove his vehicle by hoodwinking the law enforcement agency at night. The section of the road is allowed at daytime only for ferrying goods. Following the fatal accident, the local administration has banned all vehicles from plying the road, and the police have increased vigilance there.
The fatal accident is not an isolated case. Not a single day goes by without a road accident occurring at one or the other part of the country. Many people are killed in road accidents, causing incalculable human agony to the family members. They also involve huge economic loss to the family and the nation. It is all the more painful when their bread earner of the family is killed in the road accident, which fetches meager amounts in insurance cover or compensation from the government or the company that operates the vehicles. According to statistics maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs, on average, 2,200 people are killed in road accidents every year, which is one of the highest in South Asia. As many as 8,982 people lost their lives from fiscal year 2013/14 to 2017/18 and as many as 40,777 others were injured.
Whenever a fatal road accident takes place, the government hastily forms an investigation panel, but its suggestions are often shelved, and things continue as usual after some time. All the panels formed so far have raised their fingers at the driver’s carelessness, carrying of passengers by the vehicles beyond their capacity and the poor condition of the country’s roads. Undoubtedly, human error – as in the case of the Ratakatha accident – is the primary reason behind most road accidents. There are several other factors which are equally important to ensure a safe journey by road. The law enforcement agency, particularly the Traffic Police, must remain alert to make sure that the drivers are following the rules and the condition of their vehicles is fit for carrying passengers. The fatal incident at Ratakatha could have been averted had the Traffic Police remained watchful of the driver and prevented him from plying the road at night. This incident should serve as a lesson for the government. It is high time the Traffic Police strictly implemented the traffic rules. The government must impose a total ban on vehicles from plying the roads that are under construction. Saving people’s lives should be the government’s topmost priority.
Monitor dental clinics
That more than 60 per cent of the dental clinics in the Kathmandu Valley are run by unauthorised medical practitioners is cause for concern. This has happened because the Nepal Medical Council has not been able to monitor such clinics. About 2,600 dentists are registered with the council. All doctors and dentists who graduate from medical colleges, both inside and outside the country, must register with the Nepal Medical Council to practice medicine in the country. However, it has come to light in recent times that more than half the number of graduates of private medical colleges as well as those coming from outside the country fail the council exams. But even without a practising license, they somehow manage to practice their trade illegally.
If so many unauthorised dentists are operating clinics right here in the capital itself, one can well imagine the situation outside the Kathmandu Valley. The only way to improve on the situation is for the council to monitor the clinics strictly in collaboration with the related stakeholders. The government should give no room to anyone to play with the health of the people.
A version of this article appears in print on March 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.