Citizens use carpool to go around ValleyAs the fuel shortage continues to cripple daily commute in the country, citizens have promoted carpooling, guided by social media, to tackle the problem.
As the fuel shortage continues to cripple daily commute in the country, citizens have promoted carpooling, guided by social media, to tackle the problem.
A Facebook Group ‘Carpool Kathmandu’ has gathered over 22,000 members within a few days. On this group people post either ‘#offer’ or ‘#ask’ for lifts constantly.
“The main aim of the page is to match the people who are willing to offer rides and who need rides. Please vet using your mutual friends circle before getting on the rides. Let us make this forum warm, welcoming and safe for everyone to use. If someone only wants to offer ride to women, let them do that,” writes Sumana Shrestha who is credited to opening the group.
Along with Facebook groups, there are apps that have sprung up. One web-based app ‘Seatkhalicha’ offers a way to register a vacant seat so they can match someone in need of a ride with someone who is willing to offer a lift. Another web-based app ‘CarpoolKtm’ provides similar facilities.
Figures from the Department of Transport Management show that there are around one million vehicles registered in Bagmati Zone. Of them, 700,000 are motorcycles. City roads have become less congested due to the fuel crisis, a result of a border blockade by India.
DIG Jay Bahadur Chand of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division said roads would be empty completely if the blockade lasted another week.
Vehicles continue to queue up in front of filling stations in the hope of receiving at least some quantity of fuel. Manohar Chhetri of Sukedhara said he had left his car at the gas station because he does not want to miss out if and when fuel arrives.
After India imposed the embargo, although the southern neighbour denies it, the Nepal government has rationed petrol and diesel to vehicles and made people drive only on alternate days. As a result, the number of vehicles on the roads has fallen heavily, making it difficult for commuters to reach their destinations. Public buses are carrying passengers even on rooftops to compensate for their limited number.
Meanwhile, some people are seeking alternatives. Gaurav Shrestha, who is a part of the campaign ‘Kathmandu Cycle City 2020’, said he has been receiving a lot of calls from the people who want to buy bicycles. For Shrestha, a cycle-friendly Kathmandu is not just for the trying times. “It is quite feasible for Kathmandu to become a cycle city since places are not too far from one another,” he said.
Several bicycle traders have told the Post that their business has grown two to five times after the crisis began.