Transport associations say difficult to follow two-driver ruleNepal Police launched a mobile app on February 10 with an aim to keep track on long-route buses—those travelling more than 250 kilometres—and their drivers.
Nepal Police launched a mobile app on February 10 with an aim to keep track on long-route buses—those travelling more than 250 kilometres—and their drivers.
The main objective of this move is to ensure that there are at least two drivers taking turns to drive the long-route buses as fatigue and lack of sleep can result in accidents.
The system has been helpful in maintaining road safety, traffic police said.
According to traffic police, the rule to this effect has been in place for years. Section 6 of Clause 104 of the Vehicle and Transport Management Act, 1993, states that public vehicles providing long route services should have at least two drivers to take turns after six hours or after 250km, whichever comes first.
According to the data of Nepal Police, 8,461 accidents among 10,965 that occurred in the last fiscal year was due to the driver’s negligence. The data also shows that 2,005 public buses were involved in accidents last year.
With the help of the app, the traffic police keep records of drivers in Nagdhunga, Kathmandu; Kohalpur, Banke; and Shambhunath, Saptari. A picture of the driver is captured in Shambhunath for the vehicles en-route to the Valley from the east, and in Kohalpur for the vehicles en-route to the Valley from the west. The picture is then checked by traffic police at Nagdhunga to confirm that the driver was replaced by another. Similarly, for vehicles leaving the Valley, the drivers’ pictures are captured at Nagdhunga and checked at either Sambhunath or Kohalpur, depending on its route.
“We had been trying to strictly implement the rule but could not due to a lack of proper checking mechanism. However, after the app’s launch, we are able to check whether a new driver is behind the wheel after six hours or 250 kilometres,” SSP Basanta Kumar Pant, chief of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, told the Post.
In less than a month, traffic police have fined a total of 109 buses in all three check posts—59 in Nagdhunga, 37 in Kohalpur and 13 in Shambhunath. Those drivers who are found not abiding by the rule are fined Rs1,000.
However, transport operators have said that assigning two drivers to long-route buses is something that is necessary, but not always practical.
“At at time when it is difficult to retain one driver, traffic police want us to have two for every long-route bus,” Saroj Sitoula, general secretary at the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs, told the Post.
“The rule was brought to minimise accidents that occur due to the driver’s negligence, especially in the night when they might get sleepy,” said Sitoula. “But if we are to use two drivers, those drivers who are supposed to take turns may also not get to sleep soundly because he would be replacing the driver of another vehicle that arrives later,” added Sitoula, pointing at the problem they are facing due to a lack of drivers.
Officials, however, maintained that their job was to strictly implement the existing laws and that it was up to the transport association to find a way to abide by the laws.