Shake, rattle and roll

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- PREKSHYA CHAND

Feb 15, 2018-

A 15-year-old local bus is struggling to climb an uphill road at Nakhu, Lalitpur. The driver stops the bus, and the conductor instructs half the passengers to get out so that the vintage vehicle can crawl forward without the engine blowing up. The passengers who got out are forced to walk uphill till they reach a level stretch where they re-enter the bus. This is just an example of the plight public transport users have to face on a daily basis. The population explosion in the Kathmandu Valley is creating problems for public transportation users even though there has been a significant increase in the number of public vehicles. It has become extremely difficult to get even standing room in a bus, so thinking about getting a seat is farfetched. We can see people running like they are in some sort of a race to enter public vehicles with the hope of getting a seat or even a place to stand. 

Since most public vehicle drivers are money-driven, they don’t care about the state in which passengers, no matter what gender or age, need to travel. They try to cram 40 people in a bus that can barely fit 20. You are forced to exhibit your hidden gymnastic talents while you stand among 20 other passengers in such a tiny space as the conductor instructs you to shift left, right, front and back, trying to fit you in like a piece of a human puzzle. 

Along with having to endure a sweaty journey, some passengers also have to suffer sexual harassment in overcrowded public vehicles. One in three women and one in six men are said to feel insecure when taking public transportation. Taking advantage of being in a crowded setting, many perpetrators conduct such immoral acts. While many people get the courage to stand against such harassers, a few stay silent due to fear and tolerate being harassed. Along with sexual harassment, there have been many cases of pick pocketing. Thieves seize the opportunity to pick pockets while being so close to other passengers. In addition, many suffer from personal injury due to the reckless driving. There have been quite a few cases of tempos tumbling due to overcrowding. There is also the risk of transmitting diseases in a crowded situation.

Bigger and better buses like Sajha have been added to help commuters have a safer journey, but we can still see overcrowding in other local buses, micro buses, mini vans and tempos. The government should add more buses with more seats for safer travelling and also effectively implement laws addressing the problem. Until and unless the government comes up with an effective solution, and the drivers become conscious of the safety of their customers, the people of the Valley will have to continue to face many inconveniences while commuting. 

Published: 15-02-2018 08:03

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