EDITORIAL: Stop incentive

The law enforcing body had to take a tough measure after it found that many people were killed due to jaywalking

A pedestrian was seen being detained on the roadside by the traffic police for refusing to pay a fine for jaywalking. The man appears to be in his fifties but seems to be calm and composed while being seated on the parapet of the roadside. He was detained simply because he had jaywalked causing traffic disturbance. The man may have not known that jaywalking is punishable. The traffic police have started imposing fines against pedestrians who cross the roads from other places than the zebra-crossings. Rs. 200 is fined if a person is caught jaywalking which is quite common in the city areas. The traffic police had also raised awareness campaigns for long to discourage people from jaywalking or crossing the busy roads from any point not permitted for pedestrians. Nowadays, one can see huge sign boards at major intersections and busy areas informing people that about 40 percent of road accidents occur due to jaywalking. The public notice has also appealed to the people to use sidewalks and cross the road either from overhead bridges or zebra-crossings. The law enforcing body had to take a tough measure – imposing a fine of Rs. 200 – after it found that many people were killed due to jaywalking.

Such a tough measure was imposed three days ago. According to Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, as many as 3,904 pedestrians were booked for jaywalking in the past two days from 38 units set up in busy intersections. A total of 2,696 jaywalkers were fined Rs. 200 each as per the law. Others who could not pay the fine were detained for three hours on the spot from where they were trying to cross the road. Those caught with crossing the road from where they were not allowed to had to attend a class about road safety. This campaign was launched with a view to raise awareness among the pedestrians about their own safety. Police have said many people get killed in the city areas because of the pedestrians’ carelessness which often involves jaywalking. A figure published by the police states that as many as 737 people were killed for the past four years and this figure is very alarming.

While it is praiseworthy to impose a fine against a pedestrian for jaywalking, it is also equally important to build zebra-crossings, overhead bridges and subways at suitable locations so that commuters can easily cross the roads. It has been several years since the traffic lights went out of order in all intersections of the Valley. If there are traffic lights at major crossings the commuters will surely know how and when they have to cross the roads. The traffic police may have done a commendable job to minimise road accidents. But they appear to be “driven by incentives” offered by the government. The traffic police are given 15 percent as an incentive from the fine they collect from those violating the traffic rules. Such provision must be stopped because the traffic police are paid by the government for the job they do. If the traffic police are entitled to get monetary incentives other government employees also deserve similar treatment. One cannot argue that the traffic police’s job is more important than others.

A question

Plans are being made to upgrade Bir Hospital, the country’s oldest hospital, so that it would become a high-tech international-level hospital. We see the necessity of such a hospital because patients with various critical ailments go abroad for treatment including India. Those seeking treatment are compelled to do so despite the high expenses that are involved. If Bir Hospital was upgraded then there would be no need for patients to seek treatment in the hospitals of advanced countries. Upgrading Bir Hospital is feasible and why this has not been done for long is a question to answer?

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara had made this known while announcing the budget for the fiscal year 2017/18 in the Legislature-Parliament. The country possesses many competent doctors and many of these doctors are serving in Bir Hospital. Therefore, there should be no hesitation in investing to upgrade Bir Hospital which would then be able to provide treatment with modern facilities and know-how. It is a matter of concern that Bir Hospital so far has not been able to provide proper treatment which it can provided the necessary reforms are made in the management of the hospital and its infrastructure.