The chronic fuel shortage triggered by the Indian blockade has severely hit the public transportation. As a large number of public vehicles are not plying the roads, general people are literally in the soup. Unfortunately, the onset of this problem has coincided with the most widely celebrated Hindu festival, Dashain, which has already begun. Millions of commuters travel by public vehicles every year to return to their villages to celebrate it.
Around 2 million people are projected to leave Kathmandu during the festive season this year. But the inadequate number of vehicles is bound to make a large chunk of them suffer.
In fact, a number of travellers have already been forced to adjust to the dire circumstances by traveling in overcrowded public vehicles.
Some of them sitting on the roofs of moving buses is now a common sight in the Capital and outside.
This, undoubtedly, amounts to a direct violation of traffic rules and is extremely precarious.
However, the traffic police are overlooking safety issues such as this because of the fuel crisis.
What should be well understood is that the road safety is not a trivial issue.
More so if one is to consider that Nepal has one of the highest road-fatality rates in the world. The country witnesses 17 accidents per 10,000 vehicles, which is higher than China’s and most of South-East Asia’s.
The traffic in various cities is dizzyingly chaotic. Vehicles drive above the prescribed speed limit, overtake others from the wrong side and cross lanes without first signalling their intent.
It is not that the Nepal government is totally bereft of traffic rules. Rather the implementation aspect is something that has always been a problem.
And, this anomaly has been strikingly evident during these trying times.
The concerned authorities are now not giving even a scintilla of attention to enforce road safety measures.
They cannot afford to continue to display the dereliction of their duty as road safety is directly linked with lives of millions of people.
Among others, the government first must spring into action to inculcate road manners among the greater population.
Such manners may include convincing the pedestrians to use the zebra crossings and overhead bridges, enforcing the speed limit and prohibiting drivers from talking on the phone, among others.