Odd-even rule on road traffic reinforced in Valley as cases surgeAccording to the Metropolitan Traffic Division, over 1,595 traffic rule violators have been booked, as of Tuesday evening.
Prem Devkota was stuck in a traffic jam for nearly an hour while commuting to work at Jamal from his residence in Jawalakhel on Tuesday morning.
He was shocked to see so many vehicles on the road after such a long time.
Traffic volume in Kathmandu Valley has increased with the arrival of the Dashain festival. Even though the authorities have enforced odd-even rules for vehicles to contain the coronavirus spread, many motorists have not been complying with the rules.
Devkota had no idea that the odd-even vehicle rules still applied and that the traffic jams on the Valley roads were caused largely because the motorists who were not supposed to be driving were out on streets.
“It was only later that I realised that the traffic police had heightened their monitoring, because until a few days earlier, there were no restrictions for vehicles to travel around regardless of their number plates. I’d thought that the rules were relaxed,” Devkota told the Post.
Devkota works for a flight ticketing company. He resumed his work after six months when the government decided to resume international flights from the first week of this month.
Officials at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division said it has heightened the surveillance to catch the people violating the odd-even rules for vehicles in recent days as the cases of coronavirus infection have nor relented, particularly in the Valley.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal on Tuesday recorded 1,513 new cases of coronavirus infections, taking the national Covid-19 tally to 76,258. Of the total infection of Tuesday, the Kathmandu Valley recorded 934 new infections in the past 24 hours, the highest single day spike. Of them, 747 were confirmed in Kathmandu, 114 in Lalitpur and 73 in Bhaktapur.
“If only the traffic police had strictly monitored the odd-even rules from the beginning, there would not have been so much crowded and coronavirus cases,” said Devkota.
According to Superintendent of Police Rameshwor Yadav, spokesperson at the traffic police division, over 1,595 traffic rules violators have been booked as of Tuesday evening.
“We found a large number of vehicles on the road breaching the rules on Tuesday,” said Yadav. “As the festive season is nearing, the number of rule violators is going to increase as well. So we have increased our monitoring to make sure the motorists are following the odd-even rules.”
Meanwhile, the Valley Mayors’ Forum has expressed its concern over free flow of public vehicles, saying it could be contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.
“The forum had asked the government to continue the lockdown till Dashain and seal all the border points of Kathmandu Valley, but it’s open right now. With the free movement of people, the virus is getting pervasive,” said Shrestha.
The division’s data show that in the past two weeks of opening long-route vehicles, a total of 197,000 people have entered Kathmandu. Meanwhile 207,474 people have left the Valley. On an average, every day 18,000 people are entering Kathmandu Valley.
After three weeks of prohibitory orders were lifted on September 18, the chief district officers of the Valley— Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur— had implemented the odd-even rules for vehicles plying on Valley roads. However, in recent times, the government’s rules were widely ignored and authorities had been lax too.
With the government’s weak surveillance despite an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the Valley, passengers have been complaining of vehicle operators not following any of the government’s protocols, such as reserving seats for only 50 percent of the total passengers, disinfecting the vehicle.
When asked by the division office why it is not keeping a tab on those vehicle operators that are not following the basic health protocol at a time when coronavirus is being widely transmitted, Yadav said the division has made a schedule to check all those health protocols in public vehicles.
“The traffic division office will strictly monitor the odd and even rules as it will help lessen the mobility of people, we will also strictly check whether the public vehicles are following the health protocols set by government,” said Yadav.