Road safety a serious challenge as Dashain draws near
KATHMANDU, Sept 28: While the alarming series of road accidents in the last few months have proved that the country´s major highways are extremely dangerous, it is the crucial time for the authorities to implement measures to avert accidents as thousands of people would be leaving the capital for their home for Dashain holidays in a few weeks times.
Noticeably, bus ticket counters in the capital on Wednesday were bustling with unexpected rush.
By the evening, they were reporting that they had no more tickets to sell. Still there were romours abound that the tickets were being hoarded to be sold in black market at many times the regular price.
According to the reports, poor road conditions, tired or drunk drivers and overloaded vehicles were responsible for the deaths of 67 passengers in road accidents in the far western highway in the last 4 months alone with a further 167 injured. The most notorious for fatal road accident was the Mid western highway where 50 people died in the same period. Karnali highway recorded 28 fatalities.
If the authorities think the bus travelers are not less important than the air passengers, it can bring visible changes in very short time regarding bus services to reduce the accidents, says Bikash Sharma an employee at the Western Nepal Bus entrepreneur association.
“Ensure that the buses are not overloaded, the drivers are not working overtime, they are not too tired or drunk and the speed is maintained. Can´t they deploy their employees at junctions to monitor this?” asks Sharma. However, he is least hopeful that the change would ever come as ´the policemen on the ways are so used to taking bribes to easily let off buses that violate even the basic rules.´
Sharma is not at all impressed even though Dol Nath Khanal, general secretary at national federation of Nepal transport entrepreneurs states that ´officials would be present at various points to monitor the overloaded buses.´
“I was a driver for so many years. And now I oversee the western region. Except for the Delux and A/C buses, overload is a normal thing, who has ever controlled it?” Sharma stressed.
On the other hand, talking to Republica, Khanal said that the federation will take care of all issues except for the road conditions. “Road condition is so poor. It takes more than 5 hours to reach Munglin. But the road department does not seem to be bothered at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, Devendra Karki, director at the central regional roads directorate said that there would be visible change within a week.
“In view of the Dashain, we have been speedily filling up potholes on the roads and even resurfacing some blocks. We are expediting works in the needy areas, the improvement will be visible within a week.”