We need 10 times more traffic cops in Kathmandu

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Shekhar Golchha is the president of the Nepal Automobile Dealers’ Association (Nada), the organizer of Nada Auto Show 2015. Sanjeev Giri of The Kathmandu Post caught up with Golchha to talk about the overall automobile market and other issues.
What is Nada Auto Show 2015 all about?
The Nada Auto show is a platform for automobile dealers. And it is up to them to decide what they want to do or exhibit. However, in general, I can tell you that there will be a lot of new launches. A number of concept cars and bikes will be rolled out. It’s a great show for consumers. If you care planning to buy a new vehicle, you can plan for it and make comparisons at a single destination. It’s a win-win situation for all. Furthermore, such events pressurize automobile dealers to perform better. Customer expectations have been increasing in every possible way. And sellers will have to live up to them.  
How does the show contribute to the auto market?
If you look at the last 10 years, the market has been growing by 15-20 percent per annum. This is a positive sign. I feel that the auto show is going to further strengthen the maturity that the automobile market has been gaining. We have always been saying that the auto segment is no longer a luxury segment. It is an essential part to keep our economy growing.
The penetration of cars in relation to the country’s total population is just 0.6 percent while the penetration of two-wheelers is 6 percent, which is one of the lowest in the world. The government is investing so much money on developing roads. We have almost 100,000 km of black topped and gravel roads. However, the penetration of vehicles is low. The automobile trade is an established trade. The auto show is also a platform to spread this message.
What’s the current market trend like?
The registration of vehicles has crossed the 2 million mark in Nepal, and the market for automobiles is witnessing a healthy growth. The best part is that the market outside Kathmandu is growing. For two-wheelers, Kathmandu is already in an organic growth mode with growth amounting to around 5-7 percent. The market for cars is growing in Kathmandu. In any economy, the penetration level of vehicles defines how fast or well the economy is growing. Our penetration level is poor. Hence, we should encourage people to buy vehicles.
In the two-wheeler category, the sports motorcycle segment is growing. The typical commuter segment is witnessing a drop in growth. We see the highest growth in B segment cars. Demand for cars having an engine capacity of 1,000 cc or less is decreasing. Cars with this engine capacity are being operated only as taxis. This shows that our market is moving towards maturity. We are looking at B segment cars and bikes, not the cheapest ones. We are slowly moving towards being a bit more up-market.
What are the expectations of Nada from this expo?
Nada expects that the business of our members is promoted through this event. We also expect the government to realize that the outlook for the automobile industry should be a bit different. Gone are the days when automobiles used to be considered a luxury. The market has expanded a lot, and affordability and demand has increased. The automobile sector including the transport industry provides jobs to around 1.5 million people. Including fuel, the automotive sector contributes Rs60 billion to the government as annual revenue.
Transportation has become a big issue in Kathmandu. What is your take on this?
If we look at Kathmandu’s transportation from a global perspective, we have issues and problems related to management and infrastructure. The number of vehicles is less than what we need. Kathmandu has a population of some 4 million. The increase in the number of vehicles isn’t very high. The only issue is that we have failed to deliver infrastructure to support it. There is haphazard expansion of roads in Kathmandu which isn’t contributing much. The government earns Rs60 billion from this sector. However, it has failed to do anything more than planning.
Likewise, for maintaining discipline in the transportation sector, the recruitment of traffic police officers too is very low. We need at least 10 times more traffic police officers in cities like Kathmandu. If the auto market blooms, the government will earn more revenue, and this will also help the economy to bloom.

Published: 2015-09-16 09:11:16