Over 700,000 people have left the Capital in six days since GhatasthapanaDepartment of Transport Management, in coordination with the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, has set up 14 help desks to assist outbound passengers.
More than 700,000 people have left Kathmandu Valley for their hometowns and villages to celebrate Dashain in the six days since October 7 or Ghatasthapana, the first day of the festival, according to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
Around 80,000 people left the Valley on Tuesday alone, records maintained by the division show. Around 9,000 public vehicles have been leaving the Valley daily, carrying festival passengers, data show.
“Compared to last year, the number of people leaving the Valley for the festival is considerably high this year,” Superintendent of Police Sanjib Sharma Das, the division spokesperson, told the Post.
Last year, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, many people had already left for their hometowns. As a result, the passenger traffic during Dashain was low. As many of those who left the Valley during the pandemic have not returned, traffic police and transport entrepreneurs were expecting fewer people would leave the Valley this Dashain.
But the outbound traffic has been increasing steadily, say traffic police officials. “In the past two days the major exit points —Thankot and Banepa—remained quite crowded and it was difficult to manage the vehicular traffic. But from Wednesday the crowd could decrease,” said Das.
Before the pandemic, nearly 3 million people would leave the Valley for Dashain.
The primary exit points of the Valley—Nagdhunga, Bhaktapur, Pharping and other points witnessed increased traffic in recent days. Meanwhile, the traffic police have in the past one week booked 37 middlemen on the charge of swindling long-route passengers.
The division office said those involved in defrauding passengers have been sent for further action. According to the division, 1,540 traffic police have been deployed across the Valley to prevent buses from carrying passengers beyond their seating capacities and overcharging the passengers.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transport Management, in coordination with the division and other stakeholders, has set up 14 help desks at Nagdhunga, Kalanki, Koteshwar, New Bus Park, Basundhara, Swayambhu, Balkhu, Gaushala, Sundhara and Jagati among other places to assist outbound passengers.
Meanwhile, traffic police have booked over 800 people—over 70 percent of them motorcyclists—for driving under influence in four days since Ghatasthapana. However, concerns have been raised from general citizens and public health experts regarding virus transmission risk from the shared breathalysers.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for drink driving, which is a major cause of road accidents, and traffic police have been closely watching the crew of the vehicles leaving the valley,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Janak Bhattarai, also chief of the division.
He further said traffic police will also keep tabs on over-speeding vehicles in the Valley as roads remain almost empty during the festive time and motorists tend to drive recklessly.
Bhattarai also requested passengers to dial 103, 100 or contact the help desks if any public vehicles try to overcharge them. “We request each and every passenger to look at the bus fare pasted at ticket counters or help desks before boarding their vehicles,” said Bhattarai.