Policing traffic chaosTraffic police should persist with the campaign against offenders
The Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) has initiated action against traffic law violators after receiving a high number of complaints on its hotline number. The MTPD on Sunday booked 189 vehicles, including three-wheelers and microbuses, at 40 locations in Kathmandu for carrying more passengers than the prescribed capacity. Traffic Police officers booked three-wheeler tempo drivers on Thursday for violating the law on passenger limit. Officers booked 119 drivers up to Sunday afternoon for not plying taxis as per meter. Kudos to Traffic Police for enforcing laws strictly, and booking violators. Diligent policing would alleviate commuters’ daily woes.
Many motorists often break the prescribed speed limit; overtake other vehicles from the wrong side and change lane without using turn indicator lights. Pedestrians, too, contribute substantially to the chaos on Kathmandu roads. Most people walk and cross roads anytime and anywhere with impunity. Their jaywalking has often caused accidents. The onus of obeying traffic rules is on drivers and pedestrians. If they do not obey rules the easy way, they must learn them the hard way by paying fines.
According to the MTPD, Traffic Police recorded around 35,000 complaints on traffic hotline number 103 in the fiscal year 2017/18. The MTPD data reveals 522 hit and run cases in the metropolis during this period. Violating traffic laws endangers lives. According to a government report, the Nepal Road Safety Action Plan (2013-2020), Nepal has one of the highest road-fatality rates. A report published this February says around 2,000 people die every year in Nepal in road accidents.
This is not the first crackdown by the government on lawbreakers. The government could do more stringent policing, but effective law enforcement has been a problem for ages. The other problem is that the traffic police seem to act stern for a few weeks, but after some time the chaos returns. Motorists stop complying and the traffic police put their feet up and relax. For example, last year police enforced a “No Horn” campaign in Kathmandu to decrease noise pollution. The rule enforcement was effective. The cacophony on the streets had relatively reduced. Recently, perhaps, the police seem to be deaf to the uncivilized honking by motorists that has resumed.
So far, managing road safety has been poor and ad-hoc. To make roads safe again, the traffic police must take all offenders to task. Officers should fearlessly book the powerful and politically well-connected offenders too. No one is above the law. Only greater checks by the traffic police on wayward drivers and penalising them, without fear or favour will deter road rogues.