EDITORIAL: More is needed
The traffic police are often seen to let the traffic in one direction go on much too long while letting the traffic from another direction remain stuck for many minutes
Among the major reasons of traffic jams in Kathmandu roads is the mismanagement of traffic by the traffic police.
Agreed, the rise in the number of public and private vehicles is escalating causing traffic snarls. Still it is the inefficiency of the traffic police which is the reason for a significant per cent of the jams.
Many traffic police seem to be the least concerned about managing the traffic as they appear to be talking on the mobile or among themselves when they should be seeing to it that the vehicles can wait for their turn and proceed smoothly.
Kathmandu being a small city it cannot accommodate a large number of vehicles. Still it is possible to manage the present number of vehicles here. It is not only these that should be blamed for the traffic jams.
They could be averted if the proper measures were taken. Even with the widening of many of the roads in the city, yet there seem to be not much improvement as far as dealing with the traffic jams is concerned.
The traffic police should receive the necessary training to manage the traffic and if necessary they should also be provided with refresher courses from time to time so that they can do their job better.
Moreover, traffic police receive incentives for imposing fines on the erring vehicle drivers but this too has not made much of a difference. These policemen are not found to be taking the necessary action even when there is illegal parking by vehicles and they tend to look the other way or demand perks from the drivers for not being fined a bigger amount.
However, this does not mean that all traffic personnel are like that, but this significant trend needs to be corrected. Moreover, the pedestrians risk their lives while crossing as the zebra crossings are often ignored.
Sterner action should also be taken on pedestrians who cross the street the wrong way. Many of them are also found not using the overhead bridges. And vendors are still selling their wares on the pavements.
As such, there is every reason to make sure that the traffic lights are working. In the case of Kathmandu city most of these are not functioning.
Although most commute short distances yet it is appalling that it takes not only minutes but sometimes even one or two hours or more to travel short distances but not much seems to have been done to see to this situation.
Were the traffic lights working, the jams would be far less as the traffic police directing the traffic are often seen unable to manage the traffic efficiently; for example letting the traffic in one direction go on much too long while letting the traffic from another direction remain stuck for many minutes.
The solar traffic lights that were installed some years ago are seen no longer functioning. Since the jams are also caused by vehicles parking in the no parking zones, it is high time that some space was allotted for vehicles to park.
Traffic jams waste the valuable time of those on the road.
Furthermore, those commuting in taxis in particular have often to pay exorbitant fares as per the meter that too if they are working.
These call for better traffic management through more serious and more sensible measures from the authorities, particularly the traffic police.
It has been eight years since the government declared Haliyas (bonded labour system) in the far-western hilly districts freed from all forms of exploitation.
When they were freed from the traditional Haliya system, the government had pledged that they would be rehabilitated with social security provisions and relief measures.
But they have been left in the lurch as the government did nothing for their rehabilitation and wellbeing.
Most of the Haliyas are from the Dalit community who do not have a piece of land to build a house and farming for their livelihood.
It was agreed upon in September 2008 that they would be provided with land for housing; the loans they had borrowed from lenders would be exempted and income generation programmes would be launched to support their families.
Many governments were formed after the deal with the Haliyas. But none of them took initiatives to address their plight. In this regard, the government must replicate the model used for the rehabilitation of the freed-Kamaiyas in five plain districts in Mid and Far-Western regions.
The Haliyas must get support from the State for many years until they become self-dependent on their own income and skills.