Valley’s traffic and public movement up as restrictions are easedMany motorists and shop owners were found violating the rules, raising concern among traffic officers and health officials.
Roads in Kathmandu Valley were full of vehicles on Thursday as the authorities relaxed the Covid-19 prohibitory orders enforced since August 19 midnight.
The restrictions were eased amid the spike in Covid-19 caess in all three districts of the Valley after business community and wage earners complained of financial hardship brought by the shutdown.
While the district administration offices of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur have advised the public to follow health and safety precautions as well as the rules introduced for the prohibitory period, many people were caught flouting the orders on Thursday.
According to Metropolitan Traffic Police, 861 motorists were booked for not following the odd-even rule.
“It was hard for traffic police to monitor the vehicle flow and maintain the odd-even rule because there were too many vehicles on roads,” said Superintendent of Police Rameshowr Yadav, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police.
The areas like Thapathali, Tripureshwor, New Baneshwor, Koteshwor, Kalimati, Gaushala even saw traffic jams.
Similarly, shops and businesses were also found violating the rules. Though the authorities have clearly announced which shops can open on which days, many shop owners were found brazenly disregarding the rule. Even street vendors were hawking their goods despite the ban on them.
As a result, major marketplaces and shopping areas were crowded with people, and social distancing was not being maintained.
Public health experts have time and again advised the authorities and the public to strictly follow health and safety guidelines to control the spread of the coronavirus, apparently to no avail.
The district administration offices in the Valley had issued the prohibitory orders on August 18. On that day, the Valley had reported 205 new coronavirus cases. However, on Thursday, the first day of the relaxation of the restrictions, a total of 572 people were infected— 495 in Kathmandu, 43 in Lalitpur and 34 in Bhaktapur.
“We are already in a very difficult situation because even during the time of restrictions, the number of cases continued to spike and has shown no signs of coming down,” saidt Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.
“It seems the people are not following the health and safety rules. Even during the restrictions, people in inner settlements came out from their homes. Now that the businesses have been allowed to open, there will be an increase in the movement of people. If we don’t follow the health and safety rules, the infection cases are likely to increase,” said Pun.
Seeing the traffic on roads on Thursday, traffic officers were also worried.
“Our job is too risky. People should understand the severity of the situation,” said one traffic constable deployed at New Road. “Many of our colleagues have already been infected. If the people do not follow the rules, then there could be more infections.”
According to Yadav, the spokesperson of the Metropolitan Traffic Police, 260 traffic officers have contracted the coronavirus so far.
“While 70 officers have recovered, 190 officers are still in isolation,” he said.