Public, urban planners slam governmentOn the concluding afternoon of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli published a tweet in which he thanked and appreciated the public for extending cooperation and coping with the difficulties while Kathmandu hosted dignitaries from six member states.
On the concluding afternoon of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli published a tweet in which he thanked and appreciated the public for extending cooperation and coping with the difficulties while Kathmandu hosted dignitaries from six member states.
Outside on the road, the public continued to experience difficulties till late evening as roads were blocked and traffic was diverted or came to a standstill at various feeder roads of the Capital.
PM Oli posted a second tweet promising the government would work on long-term infrastructure planning to prevent such incidents.
Schools and colleges were shut down, public movement was suspended, vehicular movement was restricted with an odd-even rule and roads were completely blocked for hours. These were only some of the many nuisances faced by Valley residents.
Urban planners have slammed the casual manner in which the government carries out last-minute jobs and its failure to plan for the two-day summit, for which it had four years to prepare.
“Security of delegates is important but the government could have notified the public in advance. People could have opted for alternative routes and wouldn’t be stuck for hours on the road,” said Bhusan Tuladhar, an environmentalist and board member of Sajha Yatayat.
“Many countries across the world host such events but public life is not affected as they have effective planning and utilise modern security measures without deserting the cities,” added Tuladhar.
The week leading to the summit was also stressful to say the least as traffic came to a standstill at peak hours because of last-minute cleaning, blacktopping and installation of decorations along the lead routes of dignitaries.
People expressed their ire on social media and also documented the government’s cosmetic and patchy jobs on the road. Even on the first evening of the summit, workers could still be seen on the streets, repairing potholes or using broomer machines to clean the streets.
“The government has welcomed international guests for years but by disrupting public life. It hasn’t learnt from its experiences. The government’s inability to plan eventually inflicts the general public as essential services like public transportation are affected,” said Kishor Thapa, a former government secretary experienced in urban planning.
“If road networks in the Valley were maintained regularly, there would have been many feeder roads for the people while the motorcades could have used the main route,” Thapa told the Post. “There would be no last minute panic had the government planned it well.”
Experts have pointed out time and again that the government’s priorities on infrastructure at the three tiers of government are misplaced. While there is big noise about time and massive resource consuming mega projects like metro, monorail and cable cars, there is little being done to repair or upgrade the existing infrastructure.
“With nearly two to three decades required to complete the government’s ambitious plans, they can focus on other infrastructural development like improving public transport that can reduce problems that we have witnessed in the last few days,” said urban planner Suman Maher Shrestha, urging the government to invest in construction of flyovers, underpasses and overbridges at major junctions to reduce traffic congestion.
As major infrastructure upgrades are likely to take years, Shrestha suggested that Rapid Bus Transit (RBT) can be an instant measure that can be adopted to deal with public transport issues and avoid disruption during events like BIMSTEC. In various metropolitan cities around the world, RBT has been a game-changer—able to offer quality, comfortable and inexpensive services to the general public.