National

Traffic police rely on social media to book rule violators

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Dec 31, 2018-

On December 22, Yugdeep Luitel tried to board a taxi from Babarmahal to the airport, but the driver refused to use the fare meter. Luitel immediately shared a picture of the taxi’s number plate with the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (@valleytraffic) through Twitter. He wrote, “This taxi didn’t want to go on meter from Babarmahal to Airport.” The traffic police booked the taxi driver Suman Shahi within five days of the tweet and fined him Rs 3,000.

Similarly, on December 4, Brabim Kumar, former president of the Association of Youth Organisation Nepal, boarded a taxi from Alfa Beta Institute to Ratna Rajya School in Devkota Sadak, but the taxi driver charged him Rs 300 for just a 1.2 km ride. Based on government rules, it should not cost more than Rs 36 for one km ride in a taxi during day time and Rs 72 per km during the night time.

Kumar too shared a picture of the taxi’s number plate with the MTPD through Twitter. One week later, the taxi driver was booked by the Division.

“Filing complaints on Twitter is more effective as it is an open forum and makes the authority more accountable,” said Shail Shrestha, member of the public.

The MTPD, in recent times, has increased its social media presence to book the taxi drivers who refuse to use the fare meter.

“Social media has become an interactive medium to know the problems of the public. Apart from our CCTV surveillance, we get complaints from the public regarding the cheating taxi drivers through social media these days,” said Basanta Panta, MTPD chief.

The Division has deployed three staff to handle its social media platforms. Four other officials have been deployed at the Transport Management Office in Lalitpur to get information on the cheating drivers based on social media posts.

According to the division office, Twitter has become the most effective medium to solve the Valley’s traffic-related problems. In the past year, the MTPD had investigated into 212 out of 1,595 complaints lodged via social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. Ninety percent complaints are lodged via Twitter.

Among the complaints, the Division has taken action against 112 taxi drivers for refusing to use the fare meter and overcharging customers, 93 people for parking violation and five for emission violation.

“We have not been able to address all the complaints because of the shortage of resources,” said Sapkota.

The MTPD had introduced its public interaction programme via Twitter and Facebook on July 18, 2017.

“Now, almost all the complaints are lodged through Twitter,” said Jay Raj Sapkota, spokesperson at the Division. “Most of the complaints are against cheating taxi drivers.”

Based on the social media complaints, the Division has also booked a number of public and private vehicles for parking violation.

According to Sapkota, the complaints lodged through Twitter and Facebook vary. On Twitter, traffic police receive complaints on cheating taxi drivers and government officials’ misuse of white plate vehicles.  However, Facebook users mostly ask questions regarding license, alternative routes during rush hours and VVIP’s visit, and the nuisance caused by stray animals on the road.

The MTPD’s Twitter account has over 18,000 followers while its Facebook page has around 51,734 followers.

 

Published: 31-12-2018 08:53

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