Odd-even rule for motorcycles irks commutersThe rule will affect hundreds of people who rely on two-wheelers to get to work and run their businesses.
After coming up with a rule to ban pillion riding on motorbikes last week, officials on Monday strictly enforced the odd-even rule for two wheelers as well without providing prior notice to the public.
Hundreds of riders, most of them members of the working class, have been forced to rely on motorbikes and scooters to go to work as public transport remains suspended. The government’s unrealistic and impractical rule has aggrieved people already reeling under the effects of the lockdown, members of the general public said.
“The new rule is so unrealistic and very problematic for working class people like me,” said Bishnu Syangden, 27, who runs a trekking office in Thamel.
“I need to visit banks and finance offices almost every day as I need to manage the transition to normality after a long lockdown. I also need to meet my friends in business, but this odd-even number has restricted my mobility,” said Syagden, who relies on his scooter to go around the city.
Under the odd-even rule, vehicles with odd number plates are allowed to ply the road only on odd days of the Nepali calendar, and those with even number plates on even days.
According to the Department of Transport Management, until the last fiscal year 3.53 million vehicles were registered in Bagmati zone, of which 2.5 million were motorbikes and scooters. The data shows that most commuters in the city own a two-wheeler, and at least two members of the family rely on a single motorbike to get to work, as they can’t afford to buy a motorbike for each member of the family.
On Thursday evening the government had announced that the odd-even scheme would only be applicable to four-wheelers, but pillion riding won’t be allowed on two wheelers. The rule was so unclear that the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division faced a hard time enforcing them. But later, the rule was changed and the odd-even order was applicable for motorbikes and scooters as well.
Metropolitan Traffic Police said on Monday, that officials impounded 1,569 two wheelers and 254 four wheelers for disobeying the odd-even rule and a handful of motorbikes with pillion riders.
“I don’t see any logic behind the government's rules. Why doesn't the government allow pillion riding?” questions Suraj Parajuli, 31, a local of Sankhamul, who goes to work on his motorbike. “During the time of such a pandemic, nobody is going to ask for a lift or offer it to others. Why doesn't the government use this simple logic,” he said.
Superintendent Jeevan Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson for the traffic division, said his office enforced the new rule after it received directives from the home ministry. “We are strictly enforcing the ministry’s rules. But we won’t obstruct two-wheelers that need to go to the hospital,” said Shrestha.
The division office says nearly 1,400 traffic police officials have been deployed all across the Valley at over 40 points to make sure the rule is obeyed.