Vehicle-free Thamel a big respite for touristsA vehicle-free Thamel has given the much-needed respite to tourists and locals—businessmen and residents-alike.
A vehicle-free Thamel has given the much-needed respite to tourists and locals—businessmen and residents-alike.
The Ward 26 office of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s (KMC), the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) and tourism entrepreneurs jointly implemented a vehicle-free plan in the Capitals’ major tourist destination since Sunday.
“It feels good to walk here in the evenings,” said Andy Gudo, 47, from South Wales, who was walking through Nursing Chowk on Tuesday. “Walking through Thamel was very unsafe and noisy earlier when vehicles used to zoom past the narrow roads. Now, Thamel looks like a tourist area, where you don’t have to worry about being hit by vehicles,” added Gudo who was walking with his three-year-old daughter.
Ramsaran Thapaliya, the former president of the Thamel Tourism Development Council (TTDC), said it making the area walk-only zone is indeed a welcome move.
“It is like… my dream has finally come true. I could not enforce this plan during my tenure [as the president of the TTDC], but this plan of making Thamel vehicle-free has finally materialised and I am glad,,” said Thapaliya.
The authorities, however, have decided to allow vehicles carrying essential items to ply through Thamel. Ambulances, water tankers and tourist buses among others can enter the area.
Those Thamel residents who own vehicles have been provided with passes to for their convenience, said Khyam Raj Tiwari, chairperson of KMC Ward 26.
Businesspersons and hotel owners have to get their supplies by vehicles during the night—between 10pm and 7:30am.
Sandip Adhikari, who owns a pub in Thamel, said the move of making Thamel walk-only zone will encourage more tourists-both domestic and international—to visit the area. He, however, said the authorities must arrange parking lots for those who have to leave their vehicles outside Thamel.
“The narrow alleys of Thamel are suitable for walking, not for driving,” said Adhikari, adding that the tourist area should have been walk-only zone a decade ago.
Over 4,000 vehicles used to pass through Thamel before the ban, according to the MTPD.
The MTPD has declared exit ways from Thamel through Saat Ghumti Chowk, Sorhakhutte, Chhhetrapati, Bhagwai Bahal, Amrit Marga and Thahity. Vehicles can move towards Thamel only via Tridevi Marga.
Inspired by this move, the MTPD is getting requests from representatives from other areas like Ason, Indra Chowk and Basantapur to declare them vehicle-free zones, said Sarbendra Khanal, chief of the MTPD.