The traffic management of Kathmandu, it has long been felt, has remained chaotic. Yes, our roads are narrow and the number of vehicles plying on these narrow streets is increasing. For as long as people will have to travel, they will buy motor bikes or cars or use public transport. Thus the number of vehicles cannot be made an excuse. The wisdom lies in managing the traffic flow on the roads. But since our police have not been able to do that job effectively, commuters have been facing troubles on a daily basis— mainly during rush hours. It takes them nearly an hour to reach from one corner of the Valley to the other— which might just be few miles. Of late though, Nepal Police seems to have realized how ugly the situation could get.
Nepal Police, in view of upcoming Dashain festival, has begun mobilizing special police units at major highways, including Nagdhunga-Naubise road section, to clear the traffic and facilitate easy mobility of vehicles coming in and moving out of Kathmandu Valley. It has formed a special task force, under Inspector General of Police Sarbendra Khanal, to ensure that the drivers follow lane discipline, manage overtaking, limit traffic jam, and remove damaged vehicles off the highways immediately. This is a welcome initiative for the major cause of traffic congestion within the Valley and its periphery is the large number of vehicles entering and leaving the Valley. When they get stuck at prime entry points, the whole of Kathmandu stands still. Commuters have to suffer long hours in endless traffic. This is why such initiative must not be limited to festival times. Traffic congestion is already an endemic problem in the Valley. With the valley people coming out to shopping on the eve of festivals, one can see the sea of vehicles moving at snail’s pace.
It has become urgent to properly manage the traffic. Countries in the world come up with innovative techniques to combat congestion. Department of Transport of the UK last month announced £10 million investment to create a real-time map of traffic by using apps like Waze and Google maps. Additionally, the government is also thinking of issuing guidance to local councils about charging utility companies for carrying out road works at peak times. The Mayor of New York in the US, in October 2017, announced ban on deliveries during the morning and evening rush in certain areas to ease traffic congestion. With measures like license plate restrictions, bike sharing, and the use of data in city planning, China has been able to alleviate traffic in many of its cities. The key to ending commuters’ woes and traffic congestion lies in new thinking and constantly testing new ideas. Also, the concerned authorities shouldn’t forget to make pavements pedestrian-friendly that can eventually help manage traffic flow. Nepal Police should come up with innovative measures to make the city roads navigable. They are capable of doing it and the residents here deserve better.