Majority of the accidents in Nepal take place on roads that pass through mid-hills and anyone who has taken those roads know it pretty well that they are tortuous in nature and require skilled, confident drivers and most of the road deaths are attributed to rash and negligent driving as the driver has been at fault on most occasions.
Apart from the major road accidents outside the Kathmandu Valley, we keep hearing about the accidents in the valley as the traffic rules are frequently broken by the drivers and riders of especially the two-wheelers and public transport. As Nepal becomes one of the most dangerous countries for travelling, we have failed to implement traffic rules and not have bothered to maintain our roads and manage our transport system.
Over the past 10 years, the population of the Kathmandu Valley has increased by 4.32 percent per year and motorisation has increased by 12 percent, but the percentage of public vehicles has remained almost the same.
A major concern here is while urbanization continues, the modal share of public transport is decreasing or remains stagnant mainly because of lack of investment in the sector, weak regulations and poor quality of services. In absence of strong commitment by the government to provide an efficient formal public transport system, most of them have their own vehicle.
The public transport service in Kathmandu is fully operated by private sectors and self-financed and the fare structure is set by the government, however, there is no regular monitoring. The existing model is based on the number of passengers carried by a vehicle which has led to poor service quality and there is an unhealthy competition between the operators, overcrowding and picking up passengers from undesignated areas, of course, because we do not have proper bus stations. The public transport is non-existent post 8 pm and we don’t have proper ticketing system except Sajha bus.
The microbus which can carry 10-16 people carries more than 20 people. With no well-defined schedule, the vehicles compete with other operators for passengers resulting in over speeding risking everyone’s lives. Travelling to work has become a nightmare for me, I would rather walk to work than take a public transport. The drivers are reckless and have no sense of responsibility. Try to raise your voice and for them, it has always been about the business, if not you then they will make money from other passengers and it is just sad that the government isn’t doing much for it.
The other major problem is that analyzing the recent accidents, we can conclude that we need experienced and skilled drivers are needed to drive on Nepal’s hill roads. Currently, acquiring a driving license is pretty easy which needs to be changed and made stringent. The kids I see on the road definitely do not care about driving lanes- Nepal doesn’t have proper lanes so the lane etiquette goes outside the window. The roads are small and with no proper lanes, half our time we are stuck in traffic jam. I take close to 45 mins to reach my workplace which is merely 5 km in a bus and the smaller vehicles take 6 mins ( yes, I timed it) and I was really scared the entire journey because the driver was overspeeding and cutting lanes. The traffic police here are just there to manage the traffic as their name suggests. Sigh.
We will continue to witness more road accidents in the days to come if the concerned authorities cannot implement short and long-term road safety measures.