Stiff fares, bad roads spoiling festive mood
KATHMANDU, Oct 5: The journey of about 2 million people who are leaving Kathmandu Valley for their hometowns to celebrate Dashain is sure to be painful, thanks to transport cartels and sorry state of our roads.
The plights begin from Kathmandu itself while booking tickets for home journeys. Transport syndicates are forcing passengers to purchase tickets at black market rate, making them fork out at least 50 percent more than the normal fare.
“Booking tickets alone is such a big hassle. You have to be acquainted with the sellers to get tickets at fair rates,” said Pawan Raut, a student of Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal. He had purchased tickets for Dharan at Rs 1,500 against the government fixed rate of Rs 851.
Even those who manage to purchase tickets must endure difficult journeys along highly perilous roads and highways of the country.
The situation begins to get worse as soon as buses exit Kathmandu. "Nagdhunga-Naubise road section has earned notoriety for frequent traffic jams. Passengers have to wait hours to cross this section, Raut" said.
The road from Naubise to Mugling is comparatively better but not smooth. This section is full of potholes and many parts have been damaged.
Most passengers have to travel through Narayanghat-Mugling road section, which is the key route connecting the capital Kathmandu with the country's eastern and western parts.
The 36-km road section, which is currently being upgraded, is not only prone to traffic snarls but also highly perilous.
As the flow of traffic through the road section is the heaviest in the country, it is prone to frequent traffic snarls on a daily basis.
Landslips, which occur frequently during monsoon along various road sections, leave passengers frightened as the monsoon this year is yet retreat fully.
Likewise, thick dust along under-construction road sections clouds the vision of drivers, making it difficult for them to see even vehicles in front and back.
“We cannot even notice vehicles coming from the opposite direction due to thick dust.
This drastically increases the chance of accidents,” said Tushar Neupane, a bus operator.
Passengers who are traveling from deluxe buses have air conditioner facility and can avoid the dust. However, those in non-deluxe vehicles have no option but to face severe health hazards associated to air pollution.
“The problem is not just pollution. Lack of sidebars in various roads with high cliffs makes traveling even more perilous,” said Neupane, adding, “Even the guard rails are damaged or poorly maintained. No wonder road mishaps take place frequently on our highways.”
Poor road conditions and pollution have tremendously affected businesses along Narayanghat-Mugling road. Due to such adverse conditions, bigwigs simply avoid traveling through the road section and chose to travel through air instead. Little have been done to improve the condition.
“How long should ordinary citizens suffer?” questioned Ram Adhikari, a local of Mahadevbesi.