Published On: March 20, 2018 10:05 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

'No-vehicle zone" for peace hub

'No-vehicle zone" for peace hub

Seven years back, Lakeside, the biggest tourist hub in Pokhara, was declared a ‘no-vehicle zone’ on Friday afternoons. The ban on vehicles was implemented from Hallan Chowk to Fishtail Gate which is about a 3-km stretch of Lakeside. However, the campaign was dropped after seven months as the locals refused to comply. 

Now, once again, local political leaders, business organizations and the police are taking a joint initiative to make the Lakeside a no-vehicle zone. This time, they have taken the decision to prohibit vehicles on Fridays and Saturdays, after 5pm, from Hallan Chowk to Barahi Ghat. My City’s Santosh Pokharel asked some of the stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and authorities in Pokhara about the initiative.

Nabin Karki, DSP, Baidam Police station

As it is only a trial period, we will not ban vehicles in all places. We will first analyze the positive and negative impacts of the ban. Before taking the decision of no vehicle, we had consulted with the stakeholders. We have decided to keep larger vehicle in the tourist bus park as far as possible. We have plans to put up traffic signs appropriately. We are working to improve parking management. We currently have 12 CCTV cameras to monitor the parking areas, and we are working along with the tourism board to add 12 more cameras. 

Surya Thapaliya, Chairperson, Tourism Board, Pokhara

We are just making it a no-go zone for vehicles as an experiment. If this policy goes well, we may extend it beyond two days. Likewise, Nepal Tourism Board is planning to organize the musical events every 15 days to celebrate no-vehicle zone, which will further promote Pokhara as one of the important hubs. We are optimistic about this policy because it has worked in Thamel of Kathmandu, which is more crowded than Lakeside. We are set to implement the right policy at an important tourist hub of Pokhara. 

Bikal Tulachan, Chairperson, Western Region Hotel Association

Making Lakeside a no-vehicle zone is very relevant in today’s context. In fact, it was needed right from the beginning. But now, we have all come together for this initiative to ban vehicles in specific place and day. We should extend it to various places in near future. If we are successful in convincing people to implement it, Lakeside will be turned into a peaceful place. We have to strictly implement it, otherwise local businessmen will be unhappy with us. Indeed, everyone should come forward to support this campaign.   

Jagat Pahari, Chairperson, Pokhara-Lekhnath Metropolitan City, Ward 6

From coming Friday, we are set to implement the policy of no-vehicle zone at the Lakeside, which will massively boost tourism there.  Now, we are at a trial phase, if this policy is appreciated and supported by the people, we are further planning to extend it to other areas. Ban on vehicle has lessened pollution as well as traffic congestion around the tourist hub, which helps to foster the tourism sector. 

Surya Bhujel , Former President,  Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal

Seven years ago, when I was the president of Tourism Council, we had proposed banning vehicles for a day in the area. But we could continue it as local businesses did not like the idea. So, we will need support from everybody to make this initiative successful. If everybody agrees, then the Lakeside will be vehicle-free soon. If we don’t get support from people, the vehicle ban will fail again.

Kedar Sharma, Chairperson, Pokhara Tourism Council 

Lake side is congested, so we should stop the flow of vehicles in that area in order to make this place suitable for tourists and pedestrians. If the parking areas are managed well, we can ban vehicles for all seven days in this area. If the trial two-day vehicle ban becomes successful, we can extend it. Due to the high density of vehicles, pedestrians face various problems such as noise pollution and air pollution. This initiative will make Lakeside peaceful at least for two days. 

Basu Tripathi, Former Member, Nepal Tourism Board

The plan is to ban vehicles 5pm onwards, which is not good idea in my opinion. Instead, the ban should start a little late to allow incoming tourists reach their hotels. You know the road condition here. So, in my view, the ban should start after six.  It would be difficult to manage traffic if the ban is started early. 

Chou Bahadur Gurung, President, Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal (REBAN) Pokhara

The policy of no-vehicle zone was introduced earlier also, but it was not successful then. We need to look for the reasons behind. At that time, there was no parking facility, which made it really difficult to keep vehicles off the long section that is around three kilometers. With proper management of parking, and reduction of distance, the campaign will become successful. In the past, the place was not so crowded. But now, it is getting more and more crowded. People love to walk in vehicle-free street. Besides, if we are able to give more options for entertainment, more tourists will be attracted. 

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