Valley roads become deathtraps: Claim 4 lives in 24 hours

Published On: October 28, 2018 06:25 AM NPT By: Himal Lamsal

KATHMANDU, Oct 28: Shyam Shrestha, 36, was riding his bicycle along the Kirtipur road Saturday when he suddenly fell into a manhole left open by Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL). He did not live to see another day.

If KUKL’s intention was to lay a deathtrap for the unsuspecting, Saturday was a success. The manhole lying near the Tribhuwan University gate was a result of criminal negligence. The public sector monopoly that manages the Valley’s vital water supply ended up cutting short the life of an innocent man in his prime.
“When such deathtraps punctuate our public roads, accidents like this are inevitable. KUKL should be held responsible for Shrestha’s death,” said Kirtipur local Hari Shrestha, venting genuine anger.

Chief of Kirtipur Metropolitan Police Circle, Anil Kumar Khadka, confirmed the incident. “It seems the incident occurred around 1 or 2 o’clock at night. The open manhole was an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

Mahesh Bhattarai, general manager of KUKL, acknowledged that the incident was the result of KULK negligence. He said they had been repairing a valve in the water mains and it was regrettable they left the manhole open.

“KUKL will form a committee to investigate the incident,” he said.

Within 24 hours of the Kirtipur kill, Valley roads claimed three other lives. For denizens of the Valley avoiding injury on the road and even death has become a daily dodge.

On Friday morning, Til Kumari Tiwari of Lolangheight in Tarkeshwar Municipality was heading toward a shop from her home. Her three-year-old grandson Ajit and Sabitri, a neighbor, were with her. Within the blink of an eye a consignment truck (Na Kha 78923) seemingly out of nowhere mowed them down.

Tiwari died on the spot while Ajit and Sabitri breathed their last in the course of treatment. 

Four road deaths within 24 hours is a stark reminder of the danger lurking around every bend. Hardly a single day goes by without road accidents. The toll is increasing every day.

Potholes, palls of dust hampering visibility, roadside dumping of construction materials and manholes left open are among the daily hazards of the road. And it is not difficult to pinpoint the culprits. 

It is a well-known fact that gross negligence by KULK and the Project Implementation Directorate of the Melamchi Drinking Water Project Office is the lead factor in such regrettable incidents. But the authorities concerned are hesitant to take any remedial action.

Data maintained by the Metropolitan Traffic Police Office (MTPO) shows an unprecedented increase in the number of road accidents. According to the office, 1,284 road accidents were recorded in the period between July 17, 2018, to October 17. Thirty-seven people died while 42 others sustained severe injuries, not to mention another 1,034 people who sustained minor injuries. 

The fiscal year 2017/018 saw 6,389 road accidents, which killed 94 people and severely injured 219. Likewise, road accidents in fiscal year 2016/017 left 182 dead.

“If steps are not taken to minimize road hazards, more and more people will surely die,” said Superintendent of Police Basanta Kumar Pant, chief of MTPO.

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