80 pc breathalysers defunct; can’t be repaired in countryAlthough the traffic police’s anti drunk-driving campaign has been widely praised for helping reduce the number of road accidents in the Valley, 80 percent of the breathalysers that are currently being used are not working properly.
Although the traffic police’s anti drunk-driving campaign has been widely praised for helping reduce the number of road accidents in the Valley, 80 percent of the breathalysers that are currently being used are not working properly.
According to Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD), out of the 71 breathalysers that are being used in different traffic offices in the metropolis, 23 are not in working condition.
“Over 80 percent of such machines are not in working condition. We have been receiving complaints from almost all the traffic offices regarding defunct breathalysers,” said Jay Raj Sapkota, spokesperson at MTPD. “We have sent four machines to China for repair work. The remaining can’t be fixed,” he added.
At the Thapathali police station, none of the breathalysers work. Sub-Inspector Siddhi Ganesh Shah at Metropolitan Traffic Police Sector in Thapathali said that one breathalyser, which has an attached printer, has been sent to China for repair. The remaining four breathalysers in the office are kept in a box, as they do not work. The situation is the same in the Metropolitan Traffic Police Range in Koteshwor. “We are using an ordinary old machine. The sophisticated breathalyser was sent to China for repair three weeks ago,” said Inspector Sher Bahadur Chand.
All the 71 breathalysers were brought in from China, and cannot be repaired in Nepal due to shortage of skilled manpower. This has caused a lot of nuisance to the traffic police.
“Because we have to send the machines to China, the repair-work takes a lot of time,” added Sapkota.
In 2014, the MTPD had acquired 18 sophisticated breathalysers with a total investment of Rs2.4 million. The machines could print the alcohol intake of drivers, it could take pictures, and even save the information about drivers. Today, more than half of the machines do not work.
Traffic police says the machines they are currently using do not sensor alcohol intake. “The machines have just become a showpiece. Most of the traffic police just hold the machine and smell the rider’s mouth with their nose,” said Sub-Inspector Siddhi Ganesh Shah at Metropolitan Traffic Police Sector in Thapathali.
Doctors say the practice of smelling the breath of people is very hazardous to health and will only invite in diseases. “Swine flu (H1N1) has become very contagious these days in Nepal. Other diseases like Tuberculosis, Chickenpox, etc, can also be contracted through air or quick contact,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, Chief Medical Officer at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku. He strictly suggests traffic to use breathalysers and not smell the breath.
Traffic data shows that since the MaPaSe drive was launched in 2011, the number of critical road injuries has come down by 60 percent and the number of fatalities by 6 percent. Those booked for drunk-driving have to pay Rs1,000 and attend an hour-long class. Since the anti-drunk campaign was launched in 2011, the traffic police have booked 285, 0015 drunk drivers so far, and raised Rs 280 million as revenue. The Vehicles and Transport Management Act (1991) considers all degrees of alcohol consumption by drivers punishable.