EDITORIAL: Give no leniency

As per the Tourism Act and mountaineering regulations a liaison officer assigned for a peak must stay at the base camp from the beginning to the end of every expedition

Mountaineering is one of the sectors that fetches substantive amount of foreign currency to the national exchequer.

Nepal boasts of having eight 8000-metre mountains of all the 14 mountains of the world. Therefore, a large number of summiteers vie for climbing one or two mountains during the spring or autumn.*

This autumn season starting immediately after the recess of monsoon has also witnessed a large number of mountaineers climbing 8000 metres peaks, including Mt. Manaslu.*

In order to monitor the climbing activities to each of the peaks the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation appoints liaison officers to be stationed at base camps of the respective mountains which the climbers are supposed to scale.

The government has also appointed as many as 43 liaison officers to monitor the ascendance of those peaks getting permission for climbing. Sad to say is that hardly any of them have so far reached the base camp monitoring the climbers.

It is the liaison officers who certify that one has actually climbed the mountain. As per the Tourism Act and mountaineering regulations a liaison officer assigned for a peak must stay at the base camp from the beginning to the end of every expedition.

As of now, as many as 150 mountaineers and high altitude Nepali guides have already climbed Mt. Manaslu during this autumn season. But none of the liaison officers reached the base camp to monitor and facilitate the climbing activities, breaching the Act and regulations.

Most of the liaison officers are also found to have attested the climbers as eligible for summit certificates to be issued by the concerned ministry. As per the rule, a designated liaison officer is entitled to get US$ 3,000 for Mt Everest and US$ 2,000 for other 8000 meters peaks. Records show that all of the liaison

officers have already been paid for their assigned job never done, if foreign climbers are to be believed. Nor can the expedition organisers lodge complaints against the liaison officers for fear of possible reprisal.

The jobs the liaison officers are supposed to do include providing necessary support to the organisers and climbers as well and immediately inform the line ministry in case of any untoward incident that may happen in the course of expedition and coordinate with rescue operations to be carried out from the government side.

Director General at the Department of Tourism Sudarshan Dhakal admitted that a majority of the liaison officers stay away from the base camp but expressed his inability to take action against them when they do not abide by the rules.

If the liaison officer remains absent at the base camp it is very difficult to verify whether a person or a team had actually scaled the said peak or not. In this situation, the ministry itself has to rely on the claims made by the organisers or the climbers themselves that they had scaled the summit even if they actually did not.

If Nepal’s mountaineering is to be made trustworthy the ministry has to make its liaison officers comply with the rules. No leniency is acceptable as such overlook will tarnish the country’s image.

Tow trucks

The tortuous 14-kilometer Naubise-Nagdhunga stretch of the Tribhuvan Highway is difficult to navigate affecting traffic movement.

Many heavy vehicles like trucks tend to break down as they attempt to climb the steep road obstructing the traffic. It is said that even when a traffic is blocked by such vehicle for up to 10 minutes it will have an impact on the smooth flow of traffic lasting as much as six hours.

During the Dashain it is estimated that around 2,000 vehicles would be using the road every day.

It is difficult move the heavy vehicles which break down and also get stuck. This causes traffic jams. Now the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division has asked the Heavy Equipment Division under the Department of Roads to provide it with a heavy-duty tow truck which they do not possess.

The crane is to be deployed round-the-clock in this stretch of the road. So far, on an average two heavy vehicles develop mechanical problems along this road blocking traffic. The present cranes of the traffic police are not able to tow the heavy vehicles as they lack the power.

As such, the heavy duty tow trucks should be provided to the police in order to address the problem for commuters.