On the road

  • Complaining about fines is the wrong way to go about ensuring traffic safety

May 6, 2016-

Anyone who has ever driven in Nepal knows very well that the country’s drivers—not all but many—are a force to be feared. Overtaking recklessly, talking on the phone while driving, speeding, driving in 

the wrong lane, and taking sudden turns without switching on the side lights are just a few acts taking place almost every minute somewhere on the roads that make driving in the country so difficult and treacherous. In Nepal, an average of 2,000 people die in road accidents annually. 

Last week, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division began implementing the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act, which was amended seven months ago. Now with the latest amendments, violating traffic rule is not going to be a mere inconvenience for the violators, as it is going to take a heavy toll on their wallets. Fines for traffic violations have now been increased between two and seven times.

This, however, has not gone down well with the National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs (NFNTE). They are threatening to defy the new rules. The federation argues that the government unilaterally amended the Act to increase the penalty without any ‘scientific logic’, and that the traffic rules are difficult to abide by as the roads are not well-equipped for traffic management. 

Although the federation does raise a crucial issue about the need for better maintained roads, parking facilities, etc, its argument that traffic violations are hard to avoid due to the poor condition of the roads is a weak one. Being service providers, the first concern of the federation should be the safety of the passengers, other vehicles and 

pedestrians—not amassing profits. In other words, they should actually welcome these changes. The penalty set by the law previously had been so low that drivers did not mind paying them. This contributed to a culture of bad driving.

This is not to argue that everything is perfect. There are many areas for improvement, from bad roads to poorly-informed traffic police who do not hestitate to pull over a vehicle in the middle of a busy road. But changes come about over time. Simply passing the buck to the government solves nothing. Ensuring road safety has to be a collaborative effort, where all those on the roads have a role to play.

Published: 06-05-2016 07:59

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