MoPIT prepares draft of National Road Safety Act, proposes rescue within an hour of an accident

Published On: April 19, 2024 08:35 AM NPT By: Bhuwan Sharma

KATHMANDU, April 19: The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) has prepared a draft of the National Road Safety Act, 2081 BS, which mandates that in the event of a road accident anywhere in the country, the injured must be rescued within one hour and transported to the nearest healthcare facility.

Spokesperson Umesh Bindu Shrestha said that MoPIT is preparing to send the draft to the Ministry of Finance and Law for approval. As soon as the Ministry of Finance and Law gives its consent, the draft will be presented to the cabinet.

Shrestha stated that the draft proposes the establishment of an empowered National Road Safety Council under the chairmanship of the Minister of Physical Infrastructure. "Currently, there exists a National Road Safety Council chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure. However, due to the absence of legislation, this council has not been fully effective," he explained. "With the enactment of the proposed law, the National Road Safety Council will gain effectiveness."

The existing National Road Safety Council was formed through an executive order due to the absence of legislation. As a result, it has remained inactive.

According to Shrestha, the draft law includes a provision for rescuing accident victims within one hour, regardless of the accident location in the country.

A dedicated team comprising healthcare workers, security personnel, road department officials, and transport management department staff will be available around the clock for this purpose. This team will coordinate with relevant agencies and individuals to ensure a swift response and rescue operations.

Furthermore, the draft proposes the inclusion of representatives from the Traffic Police, Nepal Police, Health Service Department, Road Department, and Traffic Management Department in the National Road Safety Council to be established at the central level.

According to senior officials of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, the task of the Council is to help reduce road accidents, make policies, monitor, coordinate, and implement policies and programs to rescue the injured as quickly as possible if an accident occurs.

According to spokesperson Shrestha, the Ministry has already drafted the National Road Safety Act and the Public Road Safety Act separately.

"Earlier, the Ministry of Finance and Law advised the lawmakers to make a single draft by combining the National Road Safety Act and the Public Road Safety Act. Later, the parliamentary committee instructed to prepare a separate draft," he said. "The Public Road Safety Act focuses on road construction, about how to build safe roads. The Road Safety Act deals with road accidents. Therefore, these two are different subjects," he added.

A senior ministry employee of MoPIT expressed concern over the delay in enacting the National Road Safety Act, emphasizing the importance of having a separate law to mitigate road accidents.

“In contrast to Nepal, other countries accord high priority to road safety laws and action plans. In India, the Supreme Court has directed the government to establish a dedicated road safety committee. Nepal has yet to enact comprehensive road safety legislation, which is an unfortunate situation,” said the employee.

Sources within the ministry revealed that the draft road safety action plan was formulated in 2021 but has not been endorsed yet. Similarly, an initial draft of the Road Safety Act was prepared in 2075 BS.

According to MoPIT sources, the draft legislation encompasses various aspects of road safety, including education, identification of accident-prone areas, engineering enhancements for road safety, vehicle inspections, enforcement of traffic regulations, driver training, and prompt accident rescue operations.

Another ministry employee noted that due to the absence of road safety legislation, certain aspects of transportation laws and regulations are currently under review. These include regulations pertaining to traffic management, such as regulations regarding horn usage, speed control, and adherence to traffic rules.

"This, however, remains inadequate," he commented. The Department of Roads has established a road safety and traffic branch, which operates under the Planning Division. However, due to the absence of the National Road Safety Act, the effectiveness of this branch established by the Department of Road has been limited.

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