KATHMANDU, Jan 27: Commencement of the much-awaited Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Project (KSUP) from mid-March is likely to bring some respite to the denizens of the Kathmandu Valley who have to spend hours in traffic jams on a daily basis.
Under the project, roads of the valley would be divided into three routes - primary routes for vehicles with over 40 seats capacity, secondary routes for vehicles with 24-36 seats, and tertiary routes for smaller vehicles. The vehicles would not be allowed to ply the routes designated for vehicles of other sizes.
Informed sources said that eight road stretches would be designated as primary routes. Such routes would include Budanilkantha-Lagankhel, Kalanki-Koteshwar, and Chabahil-Ratnapark road stretches. Secondary routes would have 16 road stretches, while over 40 routes would be designated as tertiary routes.
Likewise, the existing small public transportat vehicles like tempo [three-wheeler], microbus and minibus would be gradually removed and replaced by mass public vehicles. If everything goes as planned, the existing traffic snarls in the Valley would be minimized considerably, claimed the Department of Transport Management (DoTM).
At present, 2.3 million vehicles are on the roads of the country, according to the government's recent data. Out of these vehicles, about one million are in the eight districts of Bagmati Zone, including three districts of the Valley.
The data also shows that private vehicles outnumber public vehicles by multiple times. About 80 percent of all the vehicles registered in Bagmati Zone are two-wheelers alone, revealed the data.
“People are forced to invest in private vehicles as public transport system is not reliable. That means the use of private vehicles will come down considerably if we make the public transport system reliable, which in turn will reduce traffic congestion,” said Tokraj Pandey, spokesperson for DoTM.
According to him, KSUP will begin as pilot project in mid-March. “And depending on its success, the project would then continue in full-fledged manner,” he said, adding that the groundwork for the project had been in progress since the past few years.
The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 3.3 billion, which will be shared between the government, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Global Environment Facilities. Under the project, ADB would provide 80 percent in soft loans to entrepreneurs willing to purchase big buses.
According to Project Management and Coordination Office of the KSUP, the individual project components will be implemented by five Project Implementation Units (PIUs). The PIU of DoTM , Department of Environment , Department of Roads , Metropolitan Traffic Police Division and Kathmandu Metropolitan City are involved.
Long rows of vehicles are always seen trapped on various road sections of the valley, including Tripureshwar-Thapathali, Kalimati-Teku, Thapathali-Soltimod, Kamaladi-Putalisadak, RNAC-Jamal, Boudha-Jorpati and Gaushala-Chabahil. Even ambulances are seen trapped in the traffic snarls. Despite the strong public outcry, the government has made little efforts to ease the traffic problem.
Transport experts have also praised the government's KSUP. Tulsi Sitaula, a retired bureaucrat with years of experience in the country's public transport sector, said it is high time to implement such projects.