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Sign of improvement in Valley transport system: To get better with wide roads, better services

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, April 28

When Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) started night bus service in the capital from mid-August last year, the deal between the government and transport entrepreneurs was to operate the service for a trial period of six months.

As the initiative turned out to be successful, the KMC decided to extend the contract by another three months, which is coming to an end in May.

The metropolis had provided the entrepreneurs the budget necessary for operating the service for the trial phase and now the entrepreneurs are lobbying for extending the service for another six months.

“The night bus service has been able to fulfill the goal with which it was introduced,” said Dharma Rimal, chairperson of the Bagmati chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE).

“The presence of armed police personnel in the vehicles has made the service safe even for female passengers,” shares Urmila Shrestha of Koteshwar, who runs a business at Kalanki.


The overhead bridge of Kaushaltar. (Photo: Nirjana Sharma)

Another sign of marked improvement in public transport is the reoperation of the Sajha buses. The Sajha buses, which began plying the Valley roads from the 60s, went off the road about a decade ago.

Just as in the past, the newly operated Sajha buses seem to have won public trust quickly with their reliable and good service.

They are also setting right the wrong practices of other public vehicles. The Sajha buses take in passengers and let them get down only at designated stops, unlike the other public buses and minibuses.

The staffs of Sajha are not new but have earlier worked in Valley public transports. They were made to undergo a training on traffic rules and were instructed to follow the code of conduct prepared by Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.

After the Sajha bus staff received widespread appreciation from public for their service, other transport entrepreneurs have requested the MTPD to train their employees on behavioral change.

Rimal, the Bagmati chapter chairman of FNTE, mentioned that the MTPD had organized three-day training for the staff of the Sajha buses to teach them, among other things, to be respectful to passengers.

However, just a week after the Sajha buses begin plying the Valley roads, other public transport entrepreneurs, filed complaint at the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) seeking cancellation of Sajha´s permit to operate from Airport premises. But the DoTM officials settled the issue allowing Sajha buses on the Airport route.

Operation of Sajha buses on the route has relieved domestic as well as international passengers as they no longer have to deal with the whims of taxi drivers.
There is also a widespread concern that the Sajha busses are vulnerable to attacks during protests and general strikes as the buses do not stop service even during strikes.


The Koteshwor-Suryabinayak six-lane highway. (Photo: Nirjana Sharma)

Chandra Phuyal, director of the DoTM, says that anyone who attacks or vandalizes the public vehicles cannot be prosecuted under the law as per the existing Motor Vehicles and Transportation Management Act 1993.

“We do not have legal provisions to take strict action against those who vandalize public vehicles. The maximum punishment that one gets for such offense is 24 days in judicial custody,” said Phuyal.

He added that route permit for a public bus to operate directly from Airport is a milestone in the public transport system.

Meanwhile, other public transport operators in the capital have also assured to implement the regulation which makes it mandatory to ensure reserved seats for women and people with disability.

Rimal claimed that 80 percent of the total 7,500 public vehicles in the Bagmati zone are following the government´s guideline on reserved seats.

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Kathmanduties will experience pleasant road ride soon: Shyam Kharel, Chief of the KVRIP
The chief of Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project (KVRIP) spoke with Republica on the ongoing construction and government´s plans for developing the roads in the Valley.

How will the roads that are being constructed differ from the existing ones?
We had earlier planned to set the electricity, telecom and television cable underground and remove all the utility poles from the expanded areas. But owing to time and financial constraints, the plan could not materialize.

KVRIP is constructing disabled-friendly roads at some places. The Tinkune-Maitighar road section will have several intersections convenient for wheelchairs. Though it would not be possible for us to build roads addressing all kinds of disabilities at once.

It is said that the Koteshwar-Bhaktapur six-lane road saw several casualties as people were not used to the wide roads. Is there a strategy to avoid such accidents in other roads of the Valley?
The Road Safety Unit under the Department of Road is in the process of identifying the accident prone places, designing flyovers and marking zebra. Likewise, we are also installing the network-based traffic signals to ease the pressure of traffic police who are functioning manually at most of the places.
It is estimated that at least 80,000 to 100,000 pedestrians cross the road at New Baneshwar Chowk every day. So a flyover must be constructed there.

How much money have the donors provided for constructing roads in the Valley?
New constructions in the expanded areas are a matter of pride for us as they are going to be built on governments alone effort. The Ministry of Finance has recently allocated Rs 480 million to complete the work. The Lazimpat-Buddhanilkantha road section is another important site after Tinkune-Maitighar section. But the much awaited ring road expansion project has recently been finalized on foreign support. The Government of China has allocated Rs 3.7 billion for 9 km eight-lane road from Kalanki to Koteshwar. The project is scheduled to begin from June.

Improvements so far

Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) started night bus service targeting the people working at odd hours in the Capital from mid-August last year.

Sajha Bus came in operation from April 14, the New Year Day of Nepali Year 2070 after a decade.

Tinkune-Maitighar road section work to be completed by mid-July. Overhead bridges, network-based traffic signals, zebra crossings to be managed in widened roads. The roads would be disabled friendly. Other 64 road section would be constructed in six month.

Eight lane ring road construction from Kalanki to Koteshor in Rs 3.7 billion aid by the Government of China from June

Department of Transport Management to encourage entrepreneurs to bring large vehicles after reconstruction works are over

Traffic to give continuity to its drive against drunk-driving; ensure reservation for disabled, women in public vehicle and act against irregularities in public vehicle such as meter tampering in taxis

Source: Republica DailyLink: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=53837
Published on 2013-04-28 07:00:40
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

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