KATHMANDU, September 14: On Tuesday morning, the traffic management of the main roads in the capital city of Kathmandu became chaotic. From 8 o'clock in the morning, the traffic police started blocking the vehicles entering Kathmandu from Bhaktapur and Lalitpur and also the vehicles traveling inside the Kathmandu Valley.
As a result, when the police began to obstruct traffic, regular citizens who had left their houses to travel had to endure hours of misery even for short distances.
The main roads were blocked and the branch roads, too, had long traffic jams. Wherever the police were deployed and engaged in management work, they were seen to be suffocating due to heavy traffic. In this way, before the traffic management became chaotic, on Tuesday morning, the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office had already issued a notice that 'vehicle traffic will be affected' in Kathmandu.
The notice, citing ‘special reasons', said traffic will be disrupted at around 9:30 in the morning in Ravibhavan, Soaltee Hotel, Kalimati, Teku, Bhotebhal, Tripureshwar, Thapathali, Kupandol, Maitighar, Naya Baneshwar to Tinkune and at around 11:30 in Tinkune, Naya Baneshwar, Babarmahal, Singhadurbar.
Similarly, traffic movement will be disrupted at 3:30 in the afternoon in Ravi Bhavan, Soaltee Hotel, Kalimati, Teku, Bhotebahal, Kupandol, Tripureshwar, Thapathali, Maitighar, Babarmahal, Singha Durbar, Bhadrakali, Padmodaya turning and at around 4:30 in the afternoon in Padmodaya turning, Bhadrakali, Singha Durbar, Maitighar, and Babarmahal.
Although the authorities cited ‘special reasons', the main reason for the traffic jam was the visit of the Chinese guests. Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and leader of Chinese Communist Party Li Zhanshu is in Kathmandu from Monday for a four-day visit with a 67-member delegation. He came to Nepal at the special invitation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Agni Prasad Sapkota.
According to Li's visit schedule, he met with National Assembly Speaker Ganesh Prasad Timilsina, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Foreign Minister Dr Narayan Khadka on Tuesday. Similarly, he called on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Tuesday afternoon.
According to this schedule, the road was cleared four times throughout the day from Hotel Soaltee , where Li is staying, to Parliament Building in the morning, Singha Durbar at 3:30 in the afternoon and back to Soaltee at 4:30 in the afternoon. This is the reason why the streets of the capital have become chaotic.
It is a tradition for the traffic police to clear the roads of the tourist areas during the 'official' visit of VIPs, keeping in mind the safety precautions.
"The country itself has decided to clear the roads during the visits of foreign VIP guests and the President", says Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rajendra Prasad Bhatt, spokesperson for the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office, "This is also related to the safety and respect of the VIPs."
According to this protocol, the problem arose when the roads were cleared four times a day for the visiting Chinese guests.
Once the road chain is cleared and arranged, the time will come to clear it again. It caused a lot of difficulty", said Bhatt. “We have a lot of problems with road infrastructure, but we also have to work taking care of the safety and respect of VIPs," he said.
Former Deputy Superintendent of Police (DIG) Keshav Adhikari, who led the Metropolitan Traffic Division, says that the traffic jam this time is the biggest. "According to what I heard, this is the biggest jam of the decade," he said, "I think the citizens have to suffer because the information was not issued on time." “Not one hour, two hours or four hours prior to such circumstances; he says that the notice should be issued two or three days in advance. If the information is given in time, citizens will find some alternative”, he said.
According to Adhikari, the traffic police should also start alternative practices to avoid such a situation. For that, he suggested that it can be managed by conducting security threat analysis on the related VIPs, making them travel through 'anti-direction' with adequate security precautions, air lifting and establishing an ‘’odd-even number plate system’ for vehicles.
“It's been a long time since mass transportation was planned, but no one is implementing it. If not implemented, this problem will continue for a long time,” he said.