Traffic Volunteers in Nepal: The unsung heroes of traffic management

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Anyone who is a resident of Kathmandu would feel the traffic of the valley is hectic. It is a well-known fact that the capital is a home to many vehicles and these vehicles outset a horrendous journey each day in the bustling streets of Kathmandu. The crowd of vehicles is a mirror to the tension of unmanageable situation for the traffic police.

In the busy junctions of Kathmandu, traffic police have to look at the four directions and manage the flood of vehicles that come to the way. Not only does he/she need to manage the traffic, but he/she also has to eye upon the people who violate the traffic rules. This load of responsibility is an iota in front of the stress level the officers face.

In order to ease the ongoing traffic problems of the valley, some of the youths have been contributing as a traffic volunteer. These youths have associated themselves as a traffic volunteer through an individual will or through a part of an organization. Their main effort is to help manage the ongoing traffic jam in the country as well as teach people with sets of traffic rules.

According to the Department of Transport Management, the number of traffic police dealing with traffic on the streets is about 1,300 against the 1.1 million vehicles and a total of 2,500 students had volunteered in the fiscal year 2016/17.  (Samiti, 2017)

Shekhar Chandra Rai, the President of V.I.A (Volunteers in Action, Nepal) has served as a senior traffic volunteer for more than a decade. Rai joined as a traffic volunteer in the armed revolution of 2063 with the main motive of supporting the morale of traffic police.

Shekhar Chandra Rai runs around the busy streets of Kathmandu to help traffic police

He shares, “I have been looking forth the traffic jam of the valley. As a senior traffic volunteer, I completed more than 1000 hours of volunteering. Previously, we had a reform on the roads of Koteshwor, Jadibuti, and Gaushala but the current expansion of roads has led the volunteers to focus only on the traffic management. Instead of only managing the traffic, we could have also informed people about the basic traffic rules as most of the accidents occur due to lack of knowledge of traffic rules.”

According to Rai, people involved in traffic volunteering include students, job-holders who want to do volunteering as a part-time job as well as retired armies. The traffic department has set out a plan of 20 hours of volunteering for the volunteers. Volunteers who complete 1,000 hours of volunteering will attain the position of a certified senior volunteer. He mentions, “Even though the designation of senior volunteer remains, the only question remains is- ‘What now?’”

In order to raise awareness about traffic laws, the traffic police department has been imparting awareness campaigns in various schools and colleges in Nepal. We can see the sight of small children being used in the campaigns as a common phenomenon. Most of the time, such campaigns seem ineffective as many people who have taken classes seem to violate the set of traffic rules

When we look upon this scenario, a majority of them do not know the basic sets of rules and it is easy to guess that these campaigns will not prove to be contributing to impart knowledge on the traffic rules.

Prabin Dahal has been working as an emergency traffic volunteer for more than 4 years now. Looking into this problem, he mentions “Without basic knowledge about traffic rules and regulations, such safety classes won’t be effective. until and unless children are well thought about traffic rules they won’t be able to apply those rules in real life. Furthermore, colleges and schools must motivate students to become a traffic volunteer.”

People who don’t follow traffic rules and vehicles who don’t coordinate well with the traffic volunteers should be pledged guilty. According to Dahal, the challenges he had to face is when people didn’t use the zebra crossing and vehicles who didn’t stop on their respective places during the traffic jam.

Prabin Dahal helping a man with the basic sets of the zebra crossing

Traffic volunteers often face problems when they are trying to help people with a set of traffic rules. Where people rarely respect the rules set by the traffic police, it becomes a bit hard for the volunteers to coordinate with them.

Samudra K.C., who has been a traffic volunteer for 2 years mentions, “We faced many problems but we were patient enough to teach people about the importance of traffic rules and convinced them. Once, a man mocked me for not being a traffic. He told me that he would not follow any traffic rules that I’d request him to follow.” Despite this, Samudra feels these problems were nothing compared to the time, honesty and dedication he has given as a volunteer for the country.

Samundra KC coordinating with student volunteers

However, Srijana Bishwakarma, a student from Prasadi College, who worked as a traffic volunteer for a week mentions that she didn’t explore a lot of problems during the job. She has witnessed problem creators become a traffic volunteer. “If some kind of incentives, as well as safety procedures, will be taught, the traffic volunteers might increase.”, adds Bishwakarma.

Samudra received a training before stepping as a traffic volunteer whereas Srijana didn’t receive any trainings before getting involved as a traffic volunteer.

The active youth involvement as a traffic volunteer is rare in Nepal. Even if the volunteering is done, the number of volunteers is an iota in front of the required number. According to Rai, there are approximately 20 certified volunteers who have been actively doing the job.

Shading light into this, Chanda Bhattarai (Bidari), a veteran traffic volunteer of the country and member of V.I.A., adds “I never felt as if traffic volunteering was a job, but I consider it to be a responsibility. We have been running around the dangerous roads for years now and it is my urge to every people that if they could join us in traffic volunteering they are doing well for the country itself.”

In conversation with Shekhar Chandra Rai and Chanda Bhattarai (Bidari)

It is a privilege that the country has got these enthusiasts and dedicated volunteers who run by the dangerous streets of Nepal just for the sake of being a helping hand in the country’s ongoing traffic problems. Unfortunately, the government has not been able to identify a set of future proposals to abet traffic volunteers with the required identity and proper financial incentives. If the concerned authority could eye upon these, then the number of youths who could get themselves involved in traffic volunteering would be a big help for the current scenario.

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Presented by: Kabita Sen

Image Souce: Traffic Volunteers- Prabin Dahal and Samundra KC.

References

RSS. (2017). Retrieved from https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/traffic-management-volunteering/

Samiti, R. S. (2017, May 25). The Himalayan Times. Retrieved from RSS: https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/traffic-management-volunteering/

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