KATHMANDU, July 14: On July 7, Sunil Pokharel, a daily commuter along the Maitighar-Tinkune road section, was stuck in a traffic jam on his bike near St Xavier's College when he decided to overtake a few vehicles in front of him by venturing into the wrong lane.
There were no traffic police personnel on duty nearby, and every other motorcycle rider beside him was doing the same.
“What could possibly go wrong by driving in the wrong lane for a short span of time?” was the thought that struck his mind as he followed suit to other motorcycles that chose to violate lane discipline.
What Pokharel missed, however, was that there was a CCTV camera nearby which was closely monitoring the traffic jam.
Two days later, Pokharel's mobile phone received a call from an unknown number. When he received the call, traffic police personnel on the other end of telephone informed him that he had violated traffic rule the other day.
“Please come tomorrow at Baggikhana to see the CCTV footage of you crossing the lane, and also bring your documents along,” the traffic police personnel told him.
Pokharel said was shocked to hear this.
“There were other vehicles crossing the lane too, but I stopped at the wrong lane for a while to help a fellow motorcycle rider. That is when the footage caught my vehicle number,” Pokharel recalled after watching the footage. He was later charged Rs 500 in fine for violating lane discipline. Pokharel is just a case out of many. Many traffic rule violators have been receiving similar calls recently as the Metropolitan Traffic Police began utilizing modern technology to monitor traffic rules in the Kathmandu valley.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Surendra Prasad Mainali, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, Ramshahpath, said they have used four different modes to monitor the traffic and take action against rule violators.
“We take immediate action on rule violators by disseminating information to the nearby police personnel after watching live footage of CCTV cameras. Some other footages are reassessed and action is generally taken after a few days. The contact details of the drivers are found with the help of the Department of Transport Management,” he said. “We also have surveillance vehicles and some GoPro cameras to monitor the traffic.”
The trend of using these new technologies by the Metropolitan Traffic Police is increasing. “Previously, we could only take action against around 20 cases a day but now we deal with more than 60 cases on a daily basis with the help of these new equipment,” SP Mainali said.
According to him, there are about 15 GoPro cameras, 300 CCTV cameras and two surveillance vehicles under the traffic police now. “The number of these equipment is gradually increasing,” he added.
However, not every case of traffic rule violation caught by the CCTV or GoPro cameras ends up with delivering punishment to the rule violators. “We cannot reach every one of the rule violators because the Department of Transport Management does not have updated information on drivers,” SP Mainali said.