Stakeholders say the implementation of metropolis’ new driving law will be challenging

  • Focus on pedestrian amenities and road surface markings, they say
- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

Apr 16, 2019-

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City office introduced a new law last week to take action against drivers if they do not prioritise pedestrians but authorities say monitoring and implementing the law will be challenging and next to impossible until pedestrian amenities and road surface markings are upgraded.

According to the new law passed by the fourth municipal assembly, law enforcers can now fine Rs200 for the first offence, followed by Rs500 for a second one.

Over 60 percent of the zebra crossings in the Capital are faded and 90 percent of these crossings fall within the metropolitan boundary but Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya says road infrastructure is beyond his jurisdiction and his office could only formulate laws. “The role of the local body is to make new laws. It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure it is implemented,” Shakya told the Post. “It is the job of the Department of Roads to ensure zebra crossings and road surface markings.”

Kathmandu is the most densely populated and motorised city in the country and road conditions are increasingly dangerous for pedestrians with increasing number of accidents and fatalities. Records show that 40 percent of the road accidents in the Capital involve pedestrians.

In the last five years, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division recorded 25,150 accidents that killed 624 people and seriously injured 1,157. Of the deceased, 296 were pedestrians. In many of these road crashes that hit pedestrians, there were fatal injuries that caused permanent disability.

While the new law to prioritise pedestrians on the road is a good move of the city authority, officials say implementation needs to be backed up by solid resources.

“We have allocated Rs21 million for road surface markings but the tentative cost to cover Kathmandu City would require Rs100 million,” said Dilip Barahai, head of the road safety and traffic unit at the Road Department. “We don’t have the budget.”

Implementing the new law and existing traffic rules and regulations will also be next to impossible without upgrading road conditions and road mark-ups, according to the Division’s spokesperson, Jay Raj Sapkota.

“Even with lane enforcement, we have only been able to take action in Singha Durbar, Babarmahal-New Baneshwor stretch and Gaushala. Road surface markings have faded or disappeared in other areas,” he said. “This makes it difficult to enforce laws for both the vehicles and pedestrians so the new law will not make any difference.”

According to the Traffic Police Division, there are 107 zebra crossings in the capital. While the number of crossings is not enough for pedestrian density in the Capital, a 2018 study on walkability conducted in 38 sections of the metropolis showed that 60 percent of the zebra crossings have already faded and 80 percent of the road stretches do not have zebra crossings.

Published: 16-04-2019 08:28

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