DHADING, Jan 29: Sunmaya Shrestha of Nilkantha Municipality-3 who recently reached Kathmandu taking a bus from Dhadingbesi says throughout the journey she thought she would not reach her destination safely. She was horrified by the reckless driving and over speeding.
"My heart was pounding such that I thought it would come out of my chest," said Shrestha, adding, "The competition for overtaking and road racing has put the lives of hundreds of passengers at risk." Though she had come here for a follow-up health check-up, she ended up being more ill.
Similarly, Hari Prasad Rijal of Nilkantha-3 who keeps traveling from Dhading to Kathmandu is a regular victim of the drivers' recklessness. "Drivers scare the hell out of us through their driving. And when we request them to drive slowly, they tell us to get off the bus," laments Rijal.
How long will the passengers have to risk their lives? Though transport entrepreneurs and committees provide compensation after accidents, who will assure safe journey for the passengers? This is the question that all passengers have in their minds before boarding public vehicles.
On June 8, last year, a bus (Ba 3 Kha 2868) en route to Dhading from Kathmandu plunged into the Trishuli River by smashing through a house on the roadside near Jahare. Though the accident did not cause any fatality, 25 passengers were injured. Over speeding was the reason behind the mishap.
Similarly, on December 2, last year, a passenger bus (Ba 3 Kha 8395) headed for Gajuri of Dhading hit a motorcycle coming from the opposite direction near Mahadevbesi Bazaar. The driver of the motorbike Narayankaji Bhandari of Gajuri died on the spot while his wife who was riding pillion was critically injured.
According to the police report and statement of the witnesses, the driver of the bus was competing with another bus, which was also heading toward Dhading. These are just a few examples, as there are several such instances where reckless driving has resulted into serious accidents.
This has compelled the people to travel in public vehicles risking their lives. There are four transport management committees for the Dhading-Kathmandu route. When four vehicles of these four committees leave at the same time, there is a competition among them regarding who will pick more passengers.
This ultimately compels the passengers to travel in overcrowded vehicles and risk their lives.
Though the Dhadingbesi-Malekhu road is concrete, it is very narrow and there are turns all over. Despite being aware of that, the drivers keep driving at high speed to overtake. "Our owners won't be happy until we earn good money which is not possible until we win others and collect as many passengers as possible," said a driver, seeking anonymity.
Badri Subedi, treasurer of the Transport Co-operative, agrees that competition among drivers has increased of late. "With the end of the syndicate system, more companies got into this business. This has promoted competition and we admit it," said Subdei, adding, "There should be fair competition but these days drivers are taking it too far."
Over speeding, road racing and unhealthy overtaking are the problems, which are not new, but still no efforts are being made by any authority to stop them.