The city deploys broomers to clean the streets every day. The tipper trucks mess them up overnightLarge-scale construction projects in the Capital have seen hundreds of trucks entering Kathmandu during the night, leaving a dusty mess behind.
When the Kathmandu Metropolitan City inaugurated five newly acquired broomer machines in March, Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya promised a clean and dust-free city. In June, China gifted two more broomer machines, bringing the total number of machines operated by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to clean the roads to seven.
But it has turned out to be a futile exercise.
Kathmandu roads, especially in Ratnapark, Tripureshwor, New Baneshwor and Jamal, continue to be dusty—and when it rains, they are muddy. Dust pollution is evidently worse in the New Bus Park area, Kalanki, Chabahil and Gaushala.
Perplexed KMC officials have finally found the culprit.
“It’s tipper trucks,” said Purna Chandra Bhatta, an inspector at the Environment Division of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. “Every night, over 500 tripper trucks enter the city carrying mud and sand for big construction projects. As they traverse the city, the mud and sand they are carrying is spilt on the roads.”
After complaints that tipper trucks were wreaking havoc—rash driving and disregard for traffic rules had resulted in accidents and deaths, the government in July last year banned daytime entry of such heavy-duty vehicles into the city.
But a surge in large-scale construction projects in the Capital has seen contractors bringing in raw materials—mud, sand and boulders—in large quantities.
Since there’s a ban on daytime entry for tipper trucks, contractors operate them at night.
“The sheer difference between the number of cleaning machines we have and that of trucks employed by contractors tells the whole story,” said Bhatta.
Kathmandu often makes international headlines for its rising pollution problem. In what looked like the government’s acknowledgement that pollution is a big problem in Kathmandu, officials, including ministers, have in the past made some grand announcements.
The government announced in its budget for the current fiscal year that it would “soon” set-up vehicle cleaning facilities at major entry points of Kathmandu to ensure that buses from different parts of the country en route to the Capital would be washed before entering the city. The plan—seemingly impractical from the beginning—has failed to take off.
Amid this, there is a construction boom in Kathmandu.
According to Bhatta, construction of large projects like the Dharahara and multi-storey buildings has led to a rise in the demand for construction materials.
Bhim Dhakal, chief of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, said tippers carrying construction materials are negligent about how mud and sand spill on the roads.
“This could be one of the reasons for increasing dust on the road,” said Dhakal.
Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, admits that they have largely failed to make the Capital a dust-free city.
“There is a lack of coordination among the concerned authorities such as the Department of Roads, Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, Nepal Telecom and the Nepal Electricity Authority,” said Dangol. “We are trying our best to coordinate with these bodies, but we have yet to see the desired results.”