Kathmandu,7 Dec 2014: “Travelling by road is a freighting experience for me as there’s no guarantee of reaching home safe and sound,” expressed Bhawani Poudel, 62, who was setting out for her hometown Ramechap by public transport from Old Buspark in Kathmandu recently.
Before taking her seat, she bowed down before the bus, a symbolic act of seeking blessings, and prayed for a safe journey home.
Poudel seemed to be wary about commencing her journey by road that could possibly be ‘perilous’ given the recurring news of road accidents in Nepal in the last few months.
Rama Rai, 43, from Okhadungha district also resounds with Poudel when it comes to travelling by road.
“Until I reach my destination, the question- whether I reach home or not keeps hounding me bad,” said Rai, explaining her fear of unknown.
These are the few excerpts of instances we mentioned here. But many passengers like Poudel and Rai have been traveling in awe unrecorded.
The commoners run short for other viable choices to road-travel as road is the principal mode of transport in Nepal both, for domestic passengers and freight movement. So far 16,60,250 registered vehicles run in the road that spans across 7000 km in the country, according to statistics of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation.
Road accidents, termed by the World Health Organization as the fastest growing ”epidemic” in South Asian countries, alone claims the life of around 1700 persons annually in Nepal.Â Over 1500 are seriously injured in a year, according to statistic of Division of Road, Nepal.
A research shows that 23 vehicles have been meeting accidents of some sort in a day in Nepal while four people, on average, have been reported to lose their life to such accidents.
According to Basant Pant, the Spokesperson of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD), the gross negligence of the driver and over-speeding are the principal reasons for the road accidents in Nepal accounting for 67 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.
Likewise, mechanical failure accounts for four per cent, overtaking 4 per cent and 6 per cent to miscellaneous reasons.
Even the minor mistakes of the pedestrians including haphazard road crossing have led to major road accidents which stands at four percent, according to the study.
While the majority of the road accidents are accounted for drivers’ negligence, drivers, on the other hand, blame it on the rough and rugged roads in Nepal with numerous narrow bends.
Madhav Kumar Karki, Director General of the Division of Road refutes it, “Human errors, albeit in few cases, have been found the most recurring reasons behind almost of those accidents.”
“The drivers cannot escape from their liability blaming it on the poor condition of the roads in the country,” he argued.
Amid this blame-game, let’s retrospect into the major road accidents occurred recently in Nepal that sent a shockwave not only in the country but also across the globe with a huge number of dead and casualties.
The bus accident that took place in Babarmahal in Kathmandu last month killed three people and injured 10. Police in course of their investigation found out that vehicle met the accident as the driver of the bus was drunk.
Similarly, 12 died and 22 were injured when a bus heading towards Mahendranagar from Kanchanpur plunged off road on November 29 at Shahajpur in Bhimduttapant Highway.
Likewise, a collision between two buses occurred on November 1 at Bastipur of Makawanpur district leading to 10 fatalities.
Also, on November 4 at Hetauda, a bus driven by the driver’s assistant in the place of a trained driver, resulted in a fatal accident with a death toll standing at seven and causalities at nine.
Likewise, 30 people were killed when an overloaded bus travelling from Jorayal of Doti district to Dhangadi fell into a gorge after it veered off a hilly on November 6.
In the backdrop of series of road accidents, the government formed a committee to probe the cases. The committee has already submitted its report to the government too but due to the lack of proper formulation of a traffic monitoring system and poor implementation of the existing one, such accidents continue to take its toll in the country.
The road accidents also have occurred in the absence of clearly defined law, the drivers who hit the pedestrian are often found killing them eventually by using a back gear instead of rescuing the casualty.
The growing number of vehicles in Kathmandu and other cities has far outstripped road capacity, often resulting in fatal congestion.
Hence, experts opine that until big buses and metro and vehicles of the like are brought into operation for public transport, the congestion will remain as it as. So does the high probability of vehicles meeting accident.
Spokesperson Pant is of the belief that the road accidents would reduce as the owner of the vehicle and drivers drive with discipline.
Also, to ensure the road safety, both the driver and traffic police must constantly check and monitor the mechanical condition of the vehicles while traffic police should regularly examine the driver’s behavior.
Furthermore, the State should formulate and implement the traffic monitoring system including the up gradation of the road and making new roads.
ByÂ (Kalika Khadka)
(Translated by Rosha Basnet)