KATHMANDU, Aug 25: The government is preparing to promote nightlife in Kathmandu Valley on condition entrepreneurs show willingness to regulate their businesses in accordance with a code of conduct, with the focus on the security aspect.
In recent talks with nightlife entrepreneurs, the Metropolitan Police and the District Administration Office (DAO) raised the security issue emphatically.
According to Chief District Officer Chudamani Sharma, the government is waiting to see if entrepreneurs are ready to embrace the terms and conditions.
“We are ready to extend nightlife hours under some terms and conditions. If nightlife establishments--gazal bars, discotheques, dance restaurants and others-- come up with infrastructure to help reduce criminal activity, nightlife hours can be extended,” Sharma said.
“Nightlife entrepreneurs focus on tourism promotion and economic development but we face security challenges”, he added.
The tourism hub of Thamel has been closing by 11 pm since the home minister imposed that restriction in 2008, claiming that night restaurants and bars were breeding crime and eroding culture.
Government security outfits have demanded compulsory installation of CCTV at restaurants and bars, sound proof musical rooms and alternative lighting systems.
Entrepreneurs say they are in the process of conforming to the code of conduct, with compulsory rate lists, fire extinguishers and businesses locating where the road is a minimum 25 feet wide.
Senior Superintendent of Police Jaya Bahadur Chand, the chief of Metropolitan Police Range Kathmandu, said, “Once the required apparatus is in place, we are ready to provide security 24 hours.”
Raju Man Dongol, general secretary of Thamel Tourism Development Council, said people are ready to pay their taxes and urged the government to provide them security. “We are in the process of conforming to the code of conduct”, he added.
He disagreed that nightlife contributed to prostitution, criminal activities and drug abuse. He said, “Crime takes place during daytime also; it´s useless blaming nightlife.”
Almost 33,000 workers dependent on nightlife are not happy with the idea of extended nightlife hours as the crime rate is sure to increase, says Menuka Thapa, chairperson of Raksha Nepal, an organization combating prostitution.
“The time increment will not help females working in dance bars and restaurants. I´m sure sex-related crime is sure to increase”, Thapa claimed.
Attempts to boost nightlife without a proper study of security and facilities for nightlife workers constitute a great risk, she added.
Nightlife entrepreneurs are providing work to almost 30 thousand people (mostly women and girls) in Thamel alone, but only 100 to 150 personal are deployed for security purposes.
Police say they are ready to increase security by five percent if required.