Kathmandu District Court encroaches pavement with impunity while street vendors are finedFor past two years, a section of pavement at Babarmahal has been encroached upon by a bus and a truck impounded by the court.
On July 1, the municipal police of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City snatched a corn cart away from a vendor couple in Baluwatar, for selling grilled maize on the footpath and obstructing pedestrian movement.
The incident captured in a video and shared on social media generated a debate, with some saying footpaths are for pedestrians and others criticising the municipal police for depriving the poor couple of their livelihood.
Kathmandu’s footpaths are often encroached upon by street vendors for the lack of regulations on street vending and they often face the wrath of the municipal police.
But there’s one section in Babarmahal where pedestrians often face problems because the footpath has been encroached upon by the Kathmandu District Court.
For the last two years, a bus and a truck have been parked next to the gate of the district court.
The vehicles were impounded for carrying contraband and goods evading taxes, according to court officials.
The case is open and until it is settled, officials say, they have no option but to keep the vehicles on the footpath.
Deepak Dahal, information officer at the Kathmandu District Court, acknowledged that the vehicles have been causing problems to pedestrians.
“We understand this has caused inconvenience to the public, but we don’t have any option either,” Dahal told the Post. “We don’t have space on the court premises for these big vehicles.”
Hari Saran Sapkota, who works as a medical supplier at Tripureshwar, said he walks the Babarmahal road on a regular basis and he has been seeing the two vehicles obstructing commoners’ movement for months.
“If these vehicles were parked on the footpath by an individual, the municipal police and traffic police would have fined them,” said Sapkota, 39. “This is a perfect example of abuse of power.”
Meanwhile, a woman in her late 20s, who owns a small shack on the roadside and has been selling tea to visitors to the district court for over a decade, said the municipal police and traffic police only book street vendors selling fruits and grilled maize, and two-wheelers.
“The bus and truck have been parked here for a long time but police have not been able to remove them although they are blocking pedestrian movements and causing traffic jams,” said the woman who refused to provide her name, fearing she could be evicted.
According to the data of the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office, it detains around 200 vehicles (80 percent two-wheelers and 20 percent four-wheelers) every day for parking illegally. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City books around the same number of vehicles for similar offences.
Recently Kathmandu Mayor Balendra Shah started a campaign to remove street vendors from footpaths. However, the City appears to have failed to notice the two heavy vehicles obstructing the footpath in Babarmahal.
The two vehicles have been parked on the tactile paving meant to guide the blind, while a huge number of motorcycles are parked on the side of the gate.
Sudarshan Subedi, former president of the National Federation of the Disabled, said it’s an irony that the City has been cracking down on public space encroachers following an order from the Supreme Court, while the district court has been openly flouting the same order.
“Isn’t it a moral crisis?” questioned Subedi. “In doing so, the district court and the authorities concerned are violating the rights of the people with disabilities.”
When asked about the encroachment of the footpath by the district court, Deputy Inspector General Mira Chaudhari, chief of the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police, said the situation has been brought to her notice and that she is working to take necessary action.
“I inquired about the issue. I am told that the district court has kept those vehicles on the footpath for lack of space on the court premises. But what they are doing is wrong,” Chaudhari told the Post. “I will further inquire about the issue with the authorities.”
The Kathmandu District Court falls in Ward 11 of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
Ward chair Hira Lal Tandukar said he had raised the issue about a year ago also.
“This whole area is infamous for illegal parking of motorbikes while vendors set up shops on the footpath,” said Tandukar, who was elected for a second term as ward chair. “I had deployed city police to remove parked motorcycles but we don’t have the machines needed to remove heavy vehicles,” he said. “It’s quite frustrating. I will again discuss this issue with the authorities concerned.”
Court officials said that since the hearing on the impounded vehicles is in the final stage, the vehicles will be removed soon.
“We will soon put the vehicles up for auction,” said Dahal, the information officer at the court. “It may take around two to four months.”