Vendors, filth give Capital’s overhead bridges bad name

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Jun 17, 2017-When the authorities launched a crackdown on jaywalkers recently, it hardly encouraged the pedestrians of Kathmandu to use overhead bridges. 

It is not that the pedestrians of Kathmandu are averse to traffic regulations. The fact is most overhead bridges are filthy and crowded by vendors. 

Shreejana Rajak of Dhobichaur uses the two overhead bridges at Ratnapark on her daily commute to work. Crossing those two overhead bridges for her is the worst part of her day.

“They are  always crowded with vendors selling a gallimaufry of items. On top of that there is this overpowering stink of toilet,” says the 29-year-old.

Rajak shares the plight of millions of pedestrians in the Capital city, and what she faces on a daily basis lays bare the lack of attention of authorities towards making the city pedestrian-friendly.

In view of some fatal road accidents in recent days in which pedestrians were knocked down by vehicles when they were using zebra crossings to get across the road, overhead bridges appear to be the safest way to cross the roads. Safe? Yes! Comfortable? No!

Some pedestrians the Post spoke were of the view that the authorities prioritise business aspect of the overhead bridges than pedestrians’ safety.

“It very well maybe safe, but taking an overhead bridge to get across the road is almost invariably going to be a horrible experience,” says Sumitra Dangol. “You have people peddling trinkets, clothes and whatnots on the bridge, which leaves little room for pedestrians to walk. Also, there is excrement and muck to negotiate.”  

Narayan Lal Shrestha, who owns a shop near an overhead bridge at Bagbazaar, says after 3pm, around a dozen vendors occupy the overhead bridge which is meant for pedestrians. 

The responsibility of managing the overhead bridges lies with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). 

Bishnu Prasad Joshi, chief of KMC’s city police, says the metropolis does not have enough manpower to manage the overhead bridge vendors. 

“We can mobilise only four city police personnel for Ratnapark, Bir Hospital and Jamal, and they deal with these vendors who forcefully occupy public places like footpaths and overhead bridges,” he says. 

To deal with the problem of vendors running their business on the overhead bridges, Joshi stresses on the need of introducing stringent laws.

“As many as 10 vendors are detained daily and their goods are seized. But we have to return these items after 35 days. They again return to overhead bridges and open their shops.”

Regarding maintenance, Joshi says the KMC has deployed sweepers to clean the overhead bridges.

He admits that enough has not been done to keep them clean. 

“Some even use these overhead bridges as though they were public toilets. Installing lights could discourage this practice,” he suggests.

Published: 17-06-2017 08:09

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