EDITORIAL: Managing the traffic

Various measures could be taken to address the transportation sector through promoting the use of electric vehicles including trolley buses which are environment friendly

It has been decided by the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) to phase out transport vehicles that are older than 20 years from March 1. This was done as per the recommendation made by the Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project to deal with the problems besetting the transport sector which is in chaos, particularly in the the capital valley. According to the DoTM there are more than 4,000 vehicles older than 20 years plying on the roads in the Kathmandu Valley which has the highest concentration of private and public vehicles. There are nearly 2.3 million vehicles in the country.  Of the old vehicles on the roads almost half of them are in the Valley in comparison to the Karnali region which has about 200 such vehicles. Taking into consideration the population of the country, the number of vehicles are less in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The department is all set to introduce larger public transport vehicles. The use of larger vehicles would not only lessen the traffic snarls common in Kathmandu roads as there would be fewer smaller vehicles. This would partly alleviate air pollution as there would be less vehicular emissions. Experts believe that replacing the smaller vehicles would lessen environmental pollution by as much as 40 per cent. Furthermore, the number of traffic accidents would be less. Relying solely on green stickers would not help in addressing vehicular emissions as fake ones could easily be purchased clandestinely for a price. Meanwhile, in an attempt to promote the use of big vehicles in Kathmandu, the DoTM is all set to prohibit small vehicles from plying on the roads from the end of March. These small vehicles such as tempos, micros and minibuses would be replaced through larger vehicles to develop mass transport systems in the major towns and cities. Steps would be taken to reduce the number of small vehicles using the roads by half within one year.

Various other measures could be taken to address the transportation sector through, among other things, promoting the use of electric vehicles including trolley buses which are environment friendly. The introduction of cable cars would also help and they could be feasible as also metro services. In order to encourage widespread use of such vehicles, the government on its part could reduce the customs duty to import the larger vehicles so that their use would be promoted. Moreover, mini vehicles are not considered to be safe for the use of transport in big cities. They not only obstruct the traffic due to their large number but they are also found involved in many tragic traffic accidents. The new routes would be set where the larger vehicles ply thereby facilitating commuters who have to reach various destinations.  They would then also choose to use such vehicles provided they are guaranteed quality services, and also it should be seen that they do not carry passengers beyond the limit set. Now it is for all  to see how the transporters abide by the provisions that have been set by the DoTM. The DoTM should not back out from its decision in order to ensure that the traffic is safe and well managed.

Take action

Saptari is not a remote district like Bajura or Bajhang in the far-western region. Saptari is well connected with roads and it also has an easy access to India as well. However, the people of this plain district have been suffering from the shortage of essential drugs for some time. Most government health facilities in the district have faced short supply of essential drugs causing great difficulty to the people seeking health service from the government health centres. Most of the people return home empty handed as these facilities do not have any stock of medicines to offer.

It is the District Public Health Office (DPHO) which is responsible for the supply of the government-provided drugs to all the health facilities. But the DPHO officials said nothing about the reason why they had not supplied the drugs.. Some life-saving drugs need to be kept always in adequate stock in all health facilities. The Saptari DPHO played with public health by not supplying essential drugs to the health facilities. This is sheer negligence on the part of the DPHO. The Ministry of Health must take departmental action against the officials for not discharging their duty honestly.