March 4, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
More than 132 people lost their lives in Kathmandu’s road accidents in the last six months, and 1,176 people died across the country in road accidents during the same time. Almost 9,000 people have died in road accidents in the country in the last five years. Eleven people died in Darchula’s jeep accident on Saturday. These are all horrible numbers. How many deaths do we need for the state mechanism to do something on road safety? Why do we fail to learn from accidents after accidents? After a series of accidents on highways, the police had made it mandatory to have at least two drivers in long-haul routes. Resting places were also designated. But nothing seems to work. Accidents have been on the rise and they show no sign of decreasing. All levels of government must come together to end this national emergency.
Road accidents involve machine, roads and humans. Some of the public vehicles running on our roads should not be on the road. Their machines do not work properly, from brakes to lights. And many of our roads, especially in hilly and mountain regions, have been built without much engineering inputs. These roads are narrow and are not blacktopped. Even the ones that were blacktopped years ago now resemble dirt roads. Our highways and roads need timely repairs and maintenance. And most importantly, the drivers must be well trained. They should not be incentivized to drive recklessly in our already dangerous roads.
The police have to work closely with local bodies to monitor vehicles on highways. Proper management of time card will ensure that vehicles do not overspeed. Drivers violating traffic rules must be punished heavily so it can act as a strong deterrent against potential violators. Moreover, timely inspection of vehicles by the designated authorities will help in having safer vehicles on roads. As we prepare to celebrate the Visit Nepal Year 2020 and welcome millions of tourists, recurring bus and plane accidents do not send a good message to the rest of the world. We should be serious about road safety. We cannot afford to keep on counting dead bodies. We have to work on legal, structural, mechanical and infrastructure issues to lessen road deaths. As the government ministers are talking about prosperity and development, it bears reminding them that sorry state of roads on the ground and lack of proper monitoring on vehicles and drivers is leading to road accidents disproportionately. And this is happening across the country. If the government authorities made road safety the top priority and worked as sincerely to minimize accidents, they would not only be saving precious lives from preventable accidents but also send the message that the government is serving the people. Road deaths have become the great source of fear in the recent times. Something has to be done to prevent them and instill the sense of safety among people. When the government fails to do the basics, people tend to disbelieve in every promise it makes.