City planners sceptical about KMC’s plan to install smart zebra crossings

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Dec 26, 2018-

Town planners have criticised the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s (KMC) new plan to install “smart zebra crossing” in the metropolis, claiming that it is just a pretentious move to deceive the public at a time when the metropolis is struggling to manage its basic infrastructures.

Last week, the KMC had announced that it would install a 100 smart zebra crossings for which the metropolis had allocated Rs 13 billion.

The smart zebra crossing is an advanced technology that is widely used in the developed nations. The technology alerts drivers when pedestrians step on the zebra crossing.  

But many town planners are sceptical about the project.  

“The metropolis is just trying to fool us. There are countless potholes on the road, no adequate footpaths, no traffic lights, and the roads are really dusty,” said Kishore Thapa, urban planner and former government secretary. “The metropolis should first solve these problems before aiming for such ambitious projects.”  

Another urban planner Suman Maher Shrestha said the move, although a welcome one, needs to be implemented only after laying proper groundwork.

“The metropolis should first construct flyovers and underpasses at various junctions and improve the road quality and safety. There needs to be a separate lane for public and private vehicles before implementing smart zebra crossing,” he said.

The metropolis, in collaboration with the Department of Roads, had announced in March to build an underpass in New Baneshwor-Sankhamul section, and flyovers in Thapathali, Maitighar, Tripureshwor and Kalimati. But no progress has been made so far.

Still, the KMC insists on launching the ambitious project.

KMC Spokesperson Ishwor Man Dangol said, “We have already consulted with the traffic police and the Department of Road. The work load for traffic police will lighten once we install the technology.”  

However, Spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) Jay Raj Sapkota said the metropolis has not consulted with the Division regarding the project.

“I don’t see any harm in making such a road map. If this plan is materialised, it will ease our work considerably,” said Sapkota.  

In a 2016 report, MTPD said the length of all vehicles operating in Kathmandu Valley put together stood at 7.2 million feet while the length of road was 4.8 million feet.  

According to ‘Kathmandu Walkability Study-2018’ conducted in 35 different sections of the metropolis, eighty percent of the roads did not have zebra crossings. The study also showed that out of 107 zebra crossings, nearly 60 percent had faded away.

Even the members of the public find it hard to believe that the KMC would effectively implement the plan.

“I am scared of crossing the road,” said Geetanjali Neupane, an engineering student from Koteshwor. “There are no adequate zebra crossings, and even the existing ones are fading away.

It is hard to imagine Kathmandu streets with smart zebra crossings under the current condition.” 

Published: 26-12-2018 07:53

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