A broken systemThe Metropolitan Police Office Kathmandu and Metropolitan Police Crime Division have been housed at the National Trading Limited compound since the Gorkha Earthquake destroyed their office building at Hanuman Dhoka.
The Metropolitan Police Office Kathmandu and Metropolitan Police Crime Division have been housed at the National Trading Limited compound since the Gorkha Earthquake destroyed their office building at Hanuman Dhoka. Three years since the disaster, two important divisions of the Nepal Police have been working out of tents with no proper infrastructure. As if that is not enough, the tents have now been naturally withering from overuse. Due to the roofs leaking constantly, many police officials have fallen sick. Sometimes, when the wind blows hard, all attention is diverted to tightly clutching on to important documents and files so that they do not get blown away. Since the departments are based in a tented camp, there are obviously no rooms to hold confidential talks or discuss private matters extensively.
The crime division is an important branch of the police as it investigates serious crimes involving murder, attempted murder, extortion, narcotics and drug-related offences. Investigations into such crimes require a dedicated team with access to proper infrastructure and private meeting rooms. No doubt, such a sorry state of the department is utterly embarrassing. But more importantly, the concerned authorities’ lack of concern for pertinent departments like these will have a serious bearing on their efficacy and service delivery. On average, the Metropolitan Police Crime Division receives around 12-15 complaints per day. As of now, it has opened 65 cases and is working on around 300 investigations. Most of the cases pertain to banking fraud, crimes against public order and morality, substance abuse, and cyber crime. It must conduct these issues of national security in an insensitively public and poorly managed confined space.
National Trading Limited has rented out 26,000 square foot of its compound to Sasa Banquet, a privately owned party venue. The Metropolitan Police Office Kathmandu and Metropolitan Police Crime Division have put up tents on the banquet’s premises. Sasa Banquet complains that the departments have encroached on their space. They have been using the land without any rental agreement, and have not been paying any rent either. This has doubly affected the owners of Sasa Banquet. It is quite ironic to note that the agency entrusted with delivering justice is involved in illegal activities itself.
While Sasa Banquet has had its own issues with the departments, the activities it hosts, such as wedding receptions, adversely affect the working conditions of the departments. They need to meticulously probe into matters and arrive at conclusions. But constant noise and uninterrupted flow of people in and out of the place has squarely affected the department’s ability to work.
The government has adopted several forward-looking policies such as the drive to go digital, however fundamental issues like ensuring that the national police can work in adequate conditions have been neglected. In its reconstruction efforts, buildings such as residences for senior-level officials seem to have been prioritised over working spaces for key state agencies designated to make the city a safer place.
Instead of overburdening itself with less significant initiatives such as the national ban on pornography and recent efforts to curb alcohol consumption, the Home Ministry—which directly oversees the department’s functioning—should focus its attention on more important tasks at hand. For a government that is so obsessed with national security, it should focus more on ensuring adequate infrastructure for the people who work everyday to guarantee it.