Government’s odd and even rule not effective in Kathmandu, virologist suggest if vehicles and number of people on the road not controlled this will create havocCitizen criticize the government’s rule of restricting pillions in motorcycle and call it a ‘nonsense move’.
The government's new rule of operating private vehicles on odd and even licence number basis failed to be enforced on Friday, as hundreds of vehicles plying the road flouted the rule, leading to more traffic on the roads and streets of Kathmandu.
Virologists suggest that if increasing vehicular movement and public mobility is not controlled, there is a higher possibility of Covid-19 contagion, and the outbreak could be disastrous for the densely populated Kathmandu Valley.
“We are at a critical phase, and maintaining social distancing and taking other necessary precautions is essential,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku.
“The odd-even provision should be strictly implemented so that it lessens public mobility,” he added.
Kathmandu Valley so far has reported 39 cases of Covid-19, while the national total of positive cases hit 5,062 on Friday after a record 448 new cases were confirmed on the day.
Amid widespread criticisms for curtailing movement and prolonging the nationwide lockdown without taking people’s hardships into consideration, the Cabinet on Thursday announced to ease the restrictions. Authorities announced applying an odd-even number rule based on the Nepali calendar but it was not monitored strictly on Friday.
“Even during the blanket lockdown, we noticed many people walking freely on the road without maintaining social distance. Easing the lockdown will give those people more freedom. If both the government and people are not sensible, this will create great problems,” said Pun.
The government had made an official announcement of applying the odd-even rule for private vehicles on the road, on Thursday night. It has also restricted more than two people in a private car and bars pillion riders on motorbikes.
Traffic police stopped motorbikes and forced pillion riders to get off and walk. The government move of not letting two people ride a motorbike has met with severe criticism.
“I saw vehicles plying the road randomly and not following the odd-even rule,” said Ayushma Shrestha, 27, owner of the Laxmi and Sons store in New Road, who had opened her shop for the second day after closing it for nearly three months.
“I really don't like traffic police not letting two people ride. It’s my brother who takes me here on his bike. Now if the government won’t let me ride on the back, how would I get to my shop?” said Shrestha, who lives in Kalanki.
Asked why the government’s odd-even rule was not properly implemented, Senior Superintendent Bhim Prasad Dhakal, chief at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, said all the odd number vehicles belonged to office-goers and pass holders.
“We will make it more stricker from Saturday. As the information was relayed by the government quite late on Thursday, they might not have known about it,” said Dhakal.