KATHMANDU, Dec 21: Sarita Koirala of Chandragiri Municipality commutes to work on a public vehicle. Though Koirala follows all health safety protocols to stay safe from COVID-19, she fears that she might get infected from the public vehicles not following the safety measures.
“After the government lifted restrictions on public transportation, vehicles were following all safety protocols set by the government. But these days, public buses do not even provide hand sanitizers while boarding,” said Koirala, who commutes to her work every day on public transportation.
“Forget about hand sanitizers, bus drivers and conductors do not even wear a face mask. Public buses are carrying passengers more than the seating capacity. Public vehicles are not safe, and even the traffic police do not even care about the situation,” she told Republica, questioning the monitoring mechanism of the government in the time of pandemic.
Although COVID-19 cases were increasing at an alarming rate, the government on October 12 decided to lift restrictions on public vehicles allowing them to operate in full capacity. However, public vehicles were told to operate by following all safety protocols.
Prior to that, public buses were allowed to operate in half of their capacity. The government had resumed the operation of public transportation after a halt of several months.
When Republica went to a few bus stations in Ratnapark, Sahid Gate, and Tripureshwar on Tuesday evening, almost all public vehicles were found breaching the health safety protocols. Bus drivers and conductors were not wearing face masks properly.
According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, it was aggressively monitoring public transportation, and was booking those not complying with the health safety protocols. “However, after the latest political development, demonstrations increased in the capital. As a result, traffic police had to manage heavy traffic rather than monitoring public vehicles,” said Superintendent of Police Shyam Krishna Adhikari, who is the spokesperson for the division.
He further added that traffic police will strictly start to monitor public vehicles within a few days.
In the meantime, a mayor of a municipality said that the government is responsible for the increase in COVID-19 cases in the Kathmandu Valley. “The district administrations in the Kathmandu Valley allowed the operation of public vehicles in full capacity, bringing COVID-19 disaster. Our forum had recommended to the government to be cautious while allowing the operation of public vehicles,” the mayor said, accusing the government of being reluctant in monitoring the COVID-19 situation.
“Not only public transportation, every sector is open, and the government is reluctant to monitor the situation,” said the mayor, adding that it is the responsibility of the local administration and traffic police to monitor public vehicles.