Lack of bus park at city centre stresses commutersPeople who need to travel to the outskirts of Kathmandu are troubled in the absence of a proper transport management system in the Capital.
Ganapati Shrestha, a native of Jhonchhe, Basantapur, does not own a private vehicle and takes the public transport for his commutes. But the removal of the temporary bus park from Khula Manch a year and a half ago is aggravating his miseries as the bus timings have gone haywire.
“For the past few months, I have to reach Thimi for work, every day. I walk up to Sahidgate or Ratnapark, but I am not sure whether I would get a public bus,” said Shrestha, 33, who has made a name for himself in Kathmandu in heritage conservation.
Like Shrestha, Rajyalaxmi Adhikari, who is originally from Banepa, said that she often panics while boarding a bus to her hometown from the Capital.
“As there is no bus park, I usually have to go to the western gate of Khula Manch to board the bus. But sometimes, traffic police don't allow the buses to stop there,” said Adhikari, who teaches at a private school in Samakhushi.
She goes to her hometown on weekends.
“It’s really difficult to get a bus. If only there was a bus park, it would be easier for a person like me,” said Adhikari, 27, from Banepa Municipality-3.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City, the country’s capital and the largest city, has not had a bus park for short- and medium-route buses for more than a year. This has caused inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of commuters.
People who need to travel to the outskirts of Kathmandu—places like Dhulikhel, Sundarijal, Naikap and Panauti—are suffering in the absence of a proper transport management system in the Capital.
“It’s mainly the elderly, pregnant women, sick and ailing people who are more hassled because of us not having a bus park,” said Yogesh Kumar Khadgi, the Ward-27 chairperson. Bir Hospital, the country’s oldest, falls in his ward where every day more than 500 patients come for treatment. They share the same predicament as other daily commuters.
Until last year, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City used Khula Manch, the open theatre, as a bus park. On April 28, the city padlocked Khula Manch following numerous protests by heritage activists, locals, and citizen-led groups, who had been calling for vacating the place since 2019.
“It’s good that the bus park has been removed from the historic Khula Manch site, but shouldn't the city mayor take an initiative to reestablish the old (Purano) bus park?” questioned Shrestha, the conservationist.
In 2016, the City decided to use half of the Khula Manch as a bus park to facilitate the construction of the View Tower at the Old Bus Park. The City had planned to use the tower’s basement and first floor as a bus terminal.
The initial plan was to use Khula Manch as a temporary bus park for six months, but due to the lack of an alternative site in the Capital, the bus park operated from Khula Manch for more than five years.
The View Tower is being built on a build-own-operate-transfer basis by Jaleshwar Swachhanda Bkoi Builders Pvt Ltd. According to the original contract, the company was to complete the construction in five years, operate the property for 30 years and then hand it over to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. But the contractor has already missed the deadline and has secured an extension of the contract, according to City officials.
“The Bkoi Builders had announced to use the ground and first floors of the building as a bus park, but it has made it a building of nine floors and still we haven’t got a bus park,” said Shrestha.
“Kathmandu’s mayor is aggressivley demolishing illegal structures. Shouldn’t he take action against the contractor who has occupied the space of the Old Bus Park for years and has failed in its commitments?” he said.
Although the City has applied a ‘pick and drop system’ for buses to Banepa, Panuati, and Sundarijal from Bir Hospital; safa tempos [electric three-wheelers] and micro buses are not well regulated.
“People from the New Road sometimes need to walk up to Lainchaur or Shahid Gate to board public vehicles. This has greatly inconvenienced a large number of people,” said Khadgi, the Ward-27 chairperson. “I will raise this issue at our next board meeting.”
It’s not only the locals or daily commuters who are complaining.
Those who like to walk for their health have also criticised the inability of the City to make a bus park for Kathmandu.
“It’s really a matter of shame that Kathmandu does not have a bus park,” said Krishna Gyawali, a former government secretary, who usually walks or boards only public vehicles.
“A month ago the contractor of the View Tower gave us a commitment that he would soon open a bus park of three floors, starting from the ground floor,” said Sunil Lamsal, a member of Mayor Shah’s Secretariat. He also said the bus park in the Kathmandu View Tower will be completed by mid-March next year.
“We have been closely watching it,” said Lamsal.