Traffic officers in Kathmandu Valley get much-needed downtime during lockdownMore than 500 traffic personnel have been assigned on duty close to their residence, and they have plenty of time to spend time with their loved ones.
Traffic constable couple Bindu Khadka and Bhupendra Karki have been enjoying the rare, stress-free time at work these days.
Because of the coronavirus lockdown, which was enforced two months ago, the young couple have been assigned to traffic duty in the Putalisadak area in Kathmandu, not far away from their rented apartment.
And with few vehicles plying the roads these days, the husband-wife constable duo is getting enough time to be with their two-year-old son.
They have been working in shifts so that one of them can be at home with their son while the other is on duty.
“It is so much convenient this way,” the couple say of their new work routine presented by the coronavirus lockdown.
In normal times, the husband and wife used to be assigned to different locations. Every morning, they left their son in a daycare centre before reporting to their duty. They rarely got time to spend quality time with their child.
“We both have our duty in Putalisadak these days. So even when one of us is out in the street doing our job, we are always close to our home,” Khadka said.
Their job, meanwhile, has become much easier. There are no traffic jams, no noise and no pollution.
Their main duty these days is to ensure that the lockdown orders are being followed by motorists.
Traffic head constable Dipendra Lama, of Sangha, Kavre, is also enjoying the much-needed downtime offered by the lockdown.
Before the lockdown, he had to make more than an hour-long commute to work daily at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division in Baggikhana, Kathmandu. He arrived home late in the evening. "I rarely got time to be with my family. The disease and the lockdown have their downsides, but there is a positive aspect for people who are in our line of work," Lama said.
He is currently stationed at a highway checkpoint, just five minutes walk from his home.
He dons a mask and strictly observes social distancing while dealing with motorists who stop at the checkpoint.
The traffic division office has distributed masks, sunglasses, gloves and sanitisers to all the officers on traffic duty.
Sub-inspector Govinda Basnet, who lives in Chapali, Budhanilkantha, feels much safer working close to his residence.
"The office is usually crowded with colleagues and service seekers. Here, I can work peacefully, away from the crowd, safe," he said.
Basnet says he makes a point of taking a shower once he has reached his home after finishing his duty.
According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, 527 traffic officers have been working near their homes during the lockdown.
SSP Bhim Prasad Dhakal, chief of the division, claims the new working arrangement has increased productivity in traffic work in Kathmandu Valley.
“We monitor their work daily and we have noticed improvement in their performance,” Dhakal said.